Meet the Man Who Raised Funds by Running a Marathon with One Leg

Steve Annear finished the Detroit Free Press Marathon on one leg and a set of crutches — and raised $100,000 for Parkinson’s research in the process.
Photograph courtesy of Steve Annear

Steve Annear finished dead last in the Detroit Free Press Marathon last October, and he’s downright proud of it.

“Eight hours and 47 minutes,” Annear, the managing director of the Kirk Gibson Foundation
for Parkinson’s, says. “Had about 5 miles to go when the organizers came out in their car and told anybody still on the course they were shutting the course and we had to get on the sidewalk.”

Annear’s finish was exceptional because he ran the race on one leg and two crutches. He lost his left leg through amputation at age 11 due to circulatory problems when he lived in Australia. This was his first — and he says his only — marathon.

“Luckily, they hadn’t yet taken the finish line apart,” he says.

In finishing the 26.2-mile course, Annear, now 62, raised more than $100,000 from pledges for the foundation. Although Annear doesn’t have the disease, he is the managing director of Gibson’s foundation and empathetic to those facing health challenges.

“I was really thrilled to get through it,” Annear says of the international race, which starts and ends in Detroit and passes through Canada. “It’s such an incredible event. Going over the Ambassador Bridge and the sun is coming up and all the people around — all passing me at that point — it was just an amazing experience. It was awesome.”

Gibson says Annear, who is a business consultant, has been a necessary component to the foundation, which recently moved to new offices in Birmingham, hiring more staff and planning bigger things beyond its annual fundraising golf event.

“Just because I hit a baseball doesn’t maybe mean that I know how to run a foundation at the level he’s doing,” Gibson says of Annear. “Maybe, also, you slip a little bit, when you have what I have. You lean on people. Steve is like a blessing.”

Annear says he sees Gibson “as a hero in the way he is handling his fight with Parkinson’s and the way he is living his life. When things go against you, it’s easy to withdraw. He’s fighting that battle and helping others fight it. They talk to him and are inspired by him. He is just so generous. I admire the hell out of him.”

Annear says the foundation’s expansion involves two main areas: providing exercise and activity-based programs for patients, and helping their families deal with challenges that come from Parkinson’s. Doing that, he says, means individual advice.

“Parkinson’s is different for every person,” he says. “There’s no cookie-cutter road map.” Getting Parkinson’s can be “like losing a limb. You end up defining a new normal. And you can really maximize your quality of life.”

This story is part of the 2023 Health Guide. Read more in our Digital Edition.