ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen revealed Monday that he has Parkinson's disease, and was diagnosed with the condition in 2014. In a heartfelt piece for ESPN's Front Row, the 86-year-old wrote that it's the first time he's publicly sharing his diagnosis.
"First and foremost – I’m doing well. For a guy pushing 87, and with the help of medicine that helps treat my symptoms, I still get around quite well and continue to travel the country telling the ESPN/life lessons stories as I have for decades," Rasmussen wrote, adding that his daughter, Sarah, who is a registered nurse, has been helping him since his diagnosis.
He wrote that although he didn't notice an immediate change in his health when his doctor gave him the news five years ago, "Things are changing for me: The shaking hands have arrived along with walking a little slower. Unexpected balance issues in crowds have led me to alter my airport routine. Per doctor’s orders, I now ride a wheelchair from check-in to aircraft. You might think that’s embarrassing, but not me – no long TSA lines anymore!"
"I’m adjusting to other things of course: My fingers are not flexible enough for me to tie a tie anymore (oh well). And I no longer drive (that saves aggravation and $$)."
But something the former DePauw University third baseman can still do is "walk, talk, think and... throw a baseball." In fact, he added that he's "thrilled to be doing First Pitch honors along with ESPN President Jimmy Pitaro at Fenway Park when the Red Sox entertain the New York Yankees" as part of a series of visits he'll make with ESPN employees in Charlotte, New York, Bristol and Los Angeles that same week.
He said he decided to open up about his diagnosis to share his story "with fans, athletes, teams, sports, businesses and hopefully stir the collective, creative geniuses among us to successfully attack this progressive brain disease."
"Now, by expanding the circle, by sharing my experiences, my hope is that I can help others who are impacted by Parkinson's and we'll all learn more together," he wrote.0comments
Parkinson's disease is a disorder of the central nervous system that affects movement, often including tremors, according to the Mayo Clinic. Nerve damage in the brain causes dopamine levels to drop, leading to symptoms like tremors, slow movement, stiffness and loss of balance. Medications can help control the symptoms of the disease, but there is no cure.
In his post, Rasmussen wrote that "by raising awareness, I hope thousands will bring new interest, new talent, new research and new dollars to bear on this insidious disease."
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