He’s the face one million viewers turn to for the nightly news. He’s the face three precious boys look up to as they yell, “Hey, Dad!” What Nigel Robertson never expected to be was the face of ALS awareness. Yet with his father’s diagnosis and death from Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the WYFF News 4 anchor has made it his mission to educate and assist Upstate patients with all types
of neurological disorders. On October 18, he’ll co-chair the fourth annual Greenville Polo Classic, raising funds for the G.H.S. Neurological Institute.
Your dad meant the world to you.
I had the coolest dad in the world. When he walked in the room everyone got excited because he was there. He was loved in every circle. It’s an honor to be his son.
He and your mom are from Trinidad and Tobago.
I’m a first- generation American, child of immigrants. I saw my parents become U.S. citizens. I always say, ‘Nigel, you better appreciate this country, because you almost didn’t have it.’
What was it like growing up in Ohio?
My dad was the plant supervisor at the General Motors plant in Lordstown. He and my mom gave up everything to come to America. I saw this country from a whole different perspective. That’s why I’m a political junkie. I love current events, and I love history because of that.
You came to the WYFF Newsroom in ’99. First impressions?
Instant family. It was senior reporters like you who took me under their wings, introduced me to right people, and really made me feel welcomed.
I would say then Senator Obama and Michelle Obama right before the South Carolina primary. I worked that for months and all the cards fell into place. I’m one of the few journalists in the world who’s had a sit-down interview with both of them together.
Good Point // Nigel Robertson introduced the Polo Classic to Greenville in 2012, to help raise funds for the GHS Neurological Institute in support of ALS research, which took the life of his father. This year’s event is on Saturday, October 18.“You won’t find anything else here like it,” says Robertson. “It keeps getting better and better.”
This business can be transient, yet you’ve been in Greenville almost 16 years.
Every day solidifies I’m just more and more grounded here. I’m the type of person who believes God will make sure to tell me when it is time to go. I’ve not heard that yet.
What does your faith mean to you?
Everything and more. I try to take whatever steps God has put up for me. It’s kept me strong through my dad’s illness, through those stories that are painful to tell, and it keeps me grounded as a husband and father. But by no means am I perfect.
When did your dad get sick?
2011. He started falling down on the tennis court. He was extremely active. That was the crazy thing, that it was ALS that took him. He never stopped. He did everything fast.
Before your dad passed, you were already partnering with G.H.S. to build a clinic in Greenville.
They came to me and asked if I’d help them start a neurological clinic. I’d been so public with my story, and they wanted to give me an outlet to help patients directly. We held the first Polo Classic in 2012, and the Greenville Health System Neurological Institute opened last year at the Patewood Campus. Anyone with neuro-disorders like strokes, Parkinson’s, MS, and ALS can go there.
What did your dad think?
I sent him pictures of the first Polo Classic every day. He was proud. This event has grown and is so successful, and the institute is now, too. I do this because it helps with the pain, it helps heal, and I know I’m helping other people. He would still be proud. He’d say, ‘That’s my boy.’