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'I'm learning how to walk again': Longtime North Texas high school coach in fight of his life

From Mesquite to Denton, coach Mike Robinson has worked with kids in nearly every sport through his career.

DALLAS — Almost a month after this original story aired, Coach Mike Robinson has received some clarity about his disease. 

As of today, Robinson tells WFAA he has been diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy, a rare neurological disease that causes gradual damage to the brain's nerve cells, affecting balance, movement and several other basic functions. 

There is no known cure.

Robinson says his doctors have asked him to increase his at-home healthcare to deal with the diagnosis and the struggles he can expect to continue to face. He and his family have set up a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign to help them cover the costs of that care.

Our original story on Coach Robinson and his illness follows.

* * * * *

Coach Mike Robinson has seen his share of adversity in life as a high school sports coach for 30 years. But, what he is currently facing personally will be his biggest test. 

The North Texas father and husband with three children often goes by "Coach." He has been struggling with his health over the last year. 

It started when he inexplicably started falling down around the house.

"In the past three years [I've fallen] at least 12 times," said Robinson. 

Coach has the the scars to prove it. He's recovering from a broken femur and several other lower extremity injuries because of the falls.

His family, and especially his wife Angela, has been instrumental in his road to recovery. 

"I walked the sidelines for 30 years... I'm learning how to walk again," Robinson said. 

After several months of unexplained falls, the family got the news they weren't prepared for. Coach was seen by a team of doctors and staff at Baylor Hospital, and it is believed he is suffering from a severe neuro-degenerative disease.

"It's a spectrum and there is no single case like the one before it," said Mazen Elkurd, a neurologist with Baylor Scott & White.

It is evident the disease affects his motor function and is beginning to rob him of his memory. It has all of the traits of Parkinson's disease. However, it could be much more severe.

"Time is for God to say," said his wife. "Right now there's no cure. It's like hitting you between the eyes," said coach.

Suddenly the man with all the Xs and Os had no game plan. And the clock is winding down. 

Baylor Scott & White Hospital told WFAA that a final diagnosis of what he is suffering from is still unclear. He is undergoing a series of tests to narrow down the type of neuro-degenerative disease. 

Robinson has coached nearly every sport for North Mesquite, Wilmer-Hutchins, Lancaster, Dallas Hillcrest, DeSoto, Commerce, Denton and Gainesville ISD schools. Over that time he's coached a lot of kids, and he's established great relations with kids who have become adults.

During one of Robinson's physical therapy sessions the staff at Baylor Scott & White organized a surprise visit by Corey Borner, whom Robinson never coached but did visit when Borner suffered a life-changing spinal injury playing football at DeSoto. 

Robinson came to see him then and now he was returning the favor.

"Happy tears and happy smiles are gonna be the best way," said Borner.

Borner wanted to inspire Coach to keep fighting through the adversity. If there is one thing no coach likes doing, it's losing.

"I'm gonna win. They're gonna find something," said Robinson

He admits it is tough being cooped up in the house. Robinson spent many lifetimes outside the home coaching and is now forced to retire. Staying at home has been very difficult. 

Every day he spends some time in a wheelchair outside his home watching the world go by.

Robinson is normally a very private person. He told WFAA he wanted his story shared because he wants others to be aware of the early red flags. He also wants to educate people about the spectrum of neuro-degenerative diseases beyond Parkinson's.

"Even how he is, I want him here with me," said Angela Robinson.

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