Family to donate Kiick’s brain to research
Allie Kiick, daughter of late Miami Dolphins great Jim Kiick, said she never had any discussions with her father about donating his brain to science.
It was a tough conversation for their family to have, she said, before Kiick — a charismatic and instrumental member of the Dolphins teams that won back-to-back Super Bowl titles under Don Shula in 1972 and 1973 — died on June 20 at age 73.
But she knew her dad would want to help others dealing with the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the progressive and degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head.
Along with having Kiick’s brain donated, Allie Kiick started a fundraiser on Facebook this past week to raise money for the Concussion Legacy Foundation to continue its research on CTE.
The foundation — which also examined the brains of former teammates like Nick Buoniconti, Bill Stanfill, and Bob Kuechenberg — started a Jim Kiick Memorial Fund online as well.
“I was trying to think of a way to honor my dad the best way possible,” Allie Kiick told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Saturday.
“We knew my dad would want to help any way he could just because he’s always had the biggest heart.”
Originally, the goal was to raise $5,021 in a span of several days leading up to Allie’s birthday on June 30.
As the donations trickled in, Allie’s brother Austin said the family should extend the fundraiser and aim for $21,000.
So far, the Kiick family has raised more than $6,000.
They will be accepting donations through Facebook through July 21.
“Obviously, the 21 was for him,” she said, paying homage to the jersey number her father wore during his career with the Dolphins.
Kiick, who later developed dementia, died while spending his final days at Independence Hall assisted living facility in Wilton Manors.
His death was not coronavirus related, his daughter said.
But she said she believes the quarantine and social distancing processes taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 had its affects on her father.
Kiick was essentially confined to his apartment at the facility, unable to go outside and walk around, she said.
She tried to visit him when the facility eased its restrictions, but the facility decided to shut down again when she did — two days before his eventual death.
Shortly after the visit — where she sat outside and saw her father say “I miss you” — she shared on Twitter that he was “rapidly declining” while also encouraging people to take a more considered approach to dealing with the virus.
“Honestly, he was pretty great all throughout COVID-19. It’s just it’s tough for anyone in his situation,” she said.
“He just lost the spark in his eyes, and the last time I saw him was when I saw the biggest change.”
It’s been over a week since their father has died.
But Allie and brothers Austin and Brandon have taken solace in the memories that family, friends and fans have shared with them on social media.
While they hope to reach their fundraising goal, the fact that others have reached out and supported their donation efforts have helped them cope with their loss.
“It’s been amazing just for people to take the time and put their credit card in and donate is more than what we could ask for,” she said.
“It’s not about how much is donated. We really don’t look at that or care about that. It’s just my dad touched a lot of lives and people are taking the time to donate in honor of him, which is so special to us.
“It’s been helping, just to see all the stories and all the lives my dad has touched. It’s special to my brothers and I. It’s helping us get through this right now.”
Former Miami Dolphins running backs Jim Kiick, left, and Mercury Morris, right, smile at Independence Hall assisted living facility in Wilton Manors on Dec. 6, 2018.
The Dolphins' Jim Kiick goes headfirst over Steelers' Glen Edwards as Kiick scores in the third quarter of the 1972 AFC championship game at Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium.