WARRENSBURG — Tony Vick grew up emulating Kansas City Royals star George Brett. Vick threw right handed and hit left handed, just like the Hall of Famer.
On Monday, May 6, the Warrensburg resident got to meet the Brett and legendary golfer Tom Watson in a bittersweet moment.
Vick, was the honored guest at the Joe McGuff ALS Golf Classic at LionsGate.
“Mr. Brett came over and he was excited and anxious to meet me and I was just super nervous,” Vick said. “He came over and talked to my family and I. I got to meet Mr. Watson a little bit after that. …I ended up meeting both of them and introduced them to my family. We got to talk to them for a while.”
The Warrensburg-native, who has lived in Johnson County area for most of his life save for a year of his childhood spent in Montana and his time deployed, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou’ Gehrig’s Disease, in 2017 after two years of testing.
The ALS Association explained the disease as “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. … The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their demise. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.”
The former Army and U.S. Air Force reserve member of 16 years noticed he had trouble gripping weights in 2015 – Vick worked out five to six times a week while also running in 5ks and half marathons — leading to surgery on his forearm for what was initially believed to be a pinched nerve.
A batter of tests and doctor visits followed after the surgery failed to fix the weakened grip. Stiffness in his left arm and legs began accompanying the initial ailment before doctors ultimately landed on the diagnosis of ALS.
Still, Vick maintains an active lifestyle in the face of ALS.
“I’ve tried to stay going to the gym as a I can,” Vick said. “Obviously, my weights are no where close to what they used to be, but just trying to keep what I have with the diminishing of the muscles and the atrophy.”
Vick shared his story at the golf tournament, named after the former editor and sports editor of The Kansas City Star who suffered from ALS himself, after learning he would be the honoree earlier last month.
“It was a great honor,” Vick said. “I was a huge Royals fan and a George Brett fan ever since I was little. … For them to take the time out of schedules to do this, year in and year out, you could just tell they were invested in it.”