June 14, 2013
Northwest alum takes challenge head on
By David Boyce
A little over three years ago, Brian Stewart received news from his doctor that struck him hard.
A second opinion only confirmed the diagnoses. Stewart, who felt 100 percent healthy other than a few tremors in his hand, learned he had Parkinson Disease.
“It was weird,” Stewart said. “The first couple of weeks you are kind of dazed by it. And then you start digesting it and you do all the research you can on it, learning exactly what it is and what you can expect to happen.”
Stewart is 51 years old. He is a competitor. After he graduated from Cameron High School in 1983, he walked on the Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team.
After two years away from the team, Stewart walked on again his senior year and was a member of the 1983-84 team that went 24-7 and was eventually inducted into the Northwest M-Club Hall of Fame in 1998.
“That was the year we had a really good team and made the NCAA Division II tournament,” Stewart said. “That team made the Northwest Hall of Fame. I’m there by default, but I will take it.”
Walk-ons who make a college team usually have a competitive fire to earn a spot. They weren’t recruited. Coaches didn’t believe they could play at the next level.
Stewart is using that same fighting spirit to tackle Parkinson. His close friends knew he had it. He didn’t hide it, but he didn’t broadcast it, either.
A lot more of his friends became aware he had Parkinson when he posted it on his Facebook page. Stewart is raising money for the disease by participating in Moving Day Kansas City Walk benefitting the National Parkinson Foundation on June 15, 2013.
The event will take place at the Village Shopping Center in Prairie Village, KS.
To learn more about Stewart’s fundraising efforts for Parkinson, go to his Facebook page or people wanting to donate to help find a cure for Parkinson can go to www.parkinson.org.
“To be honest, I thought I would raise $1,500,” said Stewart, who lives in Kansas City and was the president of the Northwest Missouri State alumni chapter in Kansas City two years ago.
“I raised $2,000 in the first 24 hours. It was just overwhelming the support I have gotten.”
Stewart has a goal to raise $7,000. The Bearcat family has already helped him out.
“In some ways, Northwest is your life,” said Stewart, who graduated with a degree in industrial technology. “It has been my best friend. All my real close friends are Bearcats. I know you keep hearing it that, ‘Once a Bearcat always a Bearcat.’
“I actually own more Bearcat gear now than when I was actually in college, playing basketball.”
“I was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. The outpouring of support from my fraternity brothers has been amazing.”
One Northwest graduate who has pitched in to help is Reed Jorgensen, who shaved his beard to raise money for Parkinson.
“My connection to Parkinson's Disease (PD) is that my grandfather had PD,” Jorgensen said. “In 1958 he had an experimental brain surgery that they thought would either kill him or cure him. It didn't do either, but it left him pretty much a vegetable after that from what I understand.
“I was looking for a reason to trim up the beard,
and wanted it to be a fundraiser of some sorts. When Brian announced that he
was living with PD and he was doing the Moving Day fundraiser, I thought that
was a natural fit.
“I think Brian announcing to everyone about his battle with PD is great. I had noticed some tremors in his hands before he said anything . By shining a light on this disease, it helps everyone. It seems like everyone that I talk to has a direct link to PD or knows someone who has PD.”
Jorgensen made a video of his beard getting shaved off. It is now posted on his Facebook page and the National Parkinson Foundation Facebook page.
Stewart and Jorgensen graduated from Northwest in different decades, but know each other through Northwest athletics. Both are avid fans of the football team and make as many games as possible.
“I go to most of the football games and most of their championships,” Stewart said. “A few years ago when they went to Kingsville, I somehow lucked out and got on the team’s chartered flight.”
When the football season rolls around again this fall, expect to see Stewart at the games with a smile and a positive attitude. He is using that mindset in his fight against Parkinson.
“Since I was diagnosed three years ago with Parkinson, I have been reading about it,” Stewart said. “I decided I needed to get involved.”
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
firstname.lastname@example.org | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582
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