MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Former Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle is still giving back in the Tampa Bay area, even after his tenure with the team came to an end in September of 2019.
His 7th annual event, known as Clint Hurdle’s “Hot Stove Dinner” – referring to a term regarding Major League Baseball’s offseason – was extra special on Saturday, as Hurdle’s daughter Madison, who was diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome at birth, will graduate high school this year.
Prader-Willi Syndrome is a genetic disorder that will reportedly affect approximately one out of every 15,000 children at birth.
According to the Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) Association website, PWS is the result of an abnormality of chromosome 15. Symptoms, including small hands and feet, insatiable hunger and intellectual disability, are likely due to a dysfunction of the hypothalamus organ in the brain.
The organ helps bodily functions including regulating hunger, body temperature, emotions and more, according to the association.
For the Hurdle family, who are now residents of the Tampa Bay area, Maddie’s diagnosis has been a long journey.
“It’s crazy because there was just so many unknowns along the way,” Hurdle told WFLA’s Daisy Ruth. “We’re so very proud of Maddie tonight. She’s going to walk June 3, it’s going to be cool.”
Hurdle, who managed the Pirates from 2011 until 2019, has been the national spokesperson for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Association for 17 years.
“We’ve worn it, we’ve walked through it. There are so many people tonight that have been part of Maddie’s story and Maddie’s journey that have helped support, loved on us, provided service to us,” he said. “It’s just a way to say thanks, but of course, to still raise money to help level the playing field for other families that are in the game now with us.”
Hurdle described the journey as “crazy,” because there have been so many unknowns for his family along the way. He said Maddie is enjoying life on Anna Maria Island and what makes her happy, makes the family happy.
“Maddie loves animals and we’re trying to connect with a little pet service family store here that maybe out of high school, if she can just take the trolley to work and back, that’s Maddie’s dream job. Maddie has worked so hard to be, in her eyes, like everybody else,” he said.
To raise money, the event featured a “coconut drop” of golf balls from a helicopter and silent and live auctions.
The Hurdle family is committed to helping other families with the funds raised throughout the years.
“It’s not something you [raise] your hand up for to get in but once you’re in, you’re in. And we’ve connected in a strong way together,” Hurdle said. “We’re actually working really hard to find not a cure, there’s no known cure for a birth defect, but a way we can maybe treat the symptoms, which can provide our kids for more quality to their life.”
While there is currently no cure for Prader-Willi syndrome, the PWS Association website says, “research continues in an effort to find new and promising treatments to manage symptoms and ensure children and adults with the syndrome high quality of life.”
The Pirates have held spring training in Bradenton since 1969. Hurdle and his staff posted a 735-720-1 record in his nine seasons with the team.