Fam­ily to do­nate Ki­ick’s brain to re­search

Orlando Sentinel - - SUCCESS - By Safid Deen

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.”

JOHN MCCALL/SUN SENTINEL/TNS

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.

AP FILE PHOTO

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.

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