Team Draft Marks Giving Tuesday With A Call To Support Sixth Annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge
(ATLANTA, GA) – Today is Giving Tuesday—a day designed to unleash the power of people to change their communities by supporting the organizations they care about. On this Giving Tuesday, Team Draft is challenging people to help change the face of lung cancer by supporting its 6th Annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge. This one-of-kind fund raising challenge gives lung cancer “survivor-advocates” the opportunity to compete to against each other to raise funds for critical public awareness of this often misunderstood disease and for cutting-edge research that is giving new hope to those battling it. The top three fundraisers, announced on December 30, 2019, will earn trips to the Super Bowl in Miami, the Pro Bowl in Orlando, and the 29th Taste Of The NFL, an exclusive food and wine festival held in Miami the night before the big game where guests will savor dishes prepared by some of the top chefs in the country while rubbing shoulders with legendary players from all 32 NFL teams.
Team Draft was founded by former NFL linebacker and internationally-recognized health advocate Chris Draft and his late wife Keasha on November 27, 2011—their wedding day. At the time, Keasha, a never-smoker, was battling Stage IV Lung Cancer after being diagnosed with the disease in December 2010. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Chris and Keasha decided to fight back, and standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. Keasha died one month later.
Since its founding, Team Draft has been dedicated to using its unique platform to raise lung cancer awareness and research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer. And the centerpiece of that Campaign is Team Draft’s annual Lung Cancer Survivors’ Super Bowl Challenge. As Draft explains, “the Super Bowl Challenge gives us a unique opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl to raise lung cancer awareness on an international level.”
Team Draft’s efforts are paying off. “The Challenge achieves some amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center.
By giving survivor-advocates like Gina Hollenbeck, one of last year’s Challenge winners, a world-wide platform to share their stories, Team Draft is weaving a broader narrative about the true nature of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for survivors. As Gina put it last year, “I am super excited about this opportunity to go to the Super Bowl with my husband, but I am even more excited to give lung cancer a voice”—a sentiment echoed by Jeff Meckstorth, another past winner. “In many ways,” says Jeff, the Super Bowl Challenge is “a once and a lifetime opportunity to thank our community, fight for all lung cancer families, but most importantly to educate the public about the reality of lung cancer.”
In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America. And because Team Draft’s National Campaign has always been about “we” and not “me,” just as Keasha intended, participating survivor-advocates who raise more than $5,000 during the Super Bowl Challenge may commit 90% of the funds they raise to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice with the remaining 10% going to support Team Draft and its mission. Of this aspect of the Super Bowl Challenge, Dr. Camidge says, “you need somebody working on the national level. You need somebody working on the local level. Everybody wins.”
As Draft points out, “anybody can get lung cancer.” “The disease doesn’t care where you live, but your zip code often determines the quality of care you receive,” he explains. “In football, we understand the importance of the home field advantage. By allowing survivors to direct where funds go, we’re giving people the opportunity to fight for better cancer treatment in their communities—to give themselves and their neighbors the home field advantage,” he says.
But for the competing survivor-advocates, the Super Bowl Challenge is so much more than a fundraiser. “Team Draft has really helped boost our family’s spirits during this challenging time,” says Dr. Lucy Kalanithi. In 2015, Lucy and her husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, won Team Draft’s inaugural Super Bowl Challenge and were able to join Team Draft in Phoenix for Super Bowl 49. Paul went on to write the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air—a powerful and moving chronical of his life and lung cancer journey—before passing away at the age of 37.
While Team Draft hopes to have survivor-advocates from all 32 NFL cities participate in the Super Bowl Challenge, the ultimate goal is for all NCI designated cancer centers and lung cancer organizations—regardless of location—to identify and support a survivor-advocate in the Challenge every year. “We know the key to winning this fight is for everybody in the lung cancer community to support one another,” says Draft, adding that “the only way a community or an organization loses is if nobody stands up.”
On this #GivingTuesday, Team Draft is challenge everybody to make the choice to fight for their communities by joining the Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer by donating to the Chris Draft Family Foundation at www.chrisdraftfamilyfoundation.org or supporting a participating survivor-advocate in the Super Bowl Challenge at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2020-lung-cancer-survivors-super-bowl-challenge.
“This is a fight we can win, but it takes at team to tackle cancer, and we need your help,” Draft says. Will you choose to stand up for your community?
About Team Draft
Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation dedicated to increasing lung cancer awareness and research funding. To learn more or to donate, visit www.teamdraft.org.