Atlanta, GA. Team Draft’s fifth annual Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge kicked off on November 1, 2018. This unique fund raising challenge gives lung cancer survivors the opportunity to raise funds for public awareness and cutting-edge research that is giving new hope to those battling this often misunderstood disease. The top three fundraisers, Patty Watkins, Gina Hollenbeck and Jeff Meckstroth were announced on December 31, 2018.
To be able to attend Super Bowl 53 & represent my fellow lung cancer survivors and the #1 killing cancer, the American Cancer Society whose headquarters is in Atlanta and the home of this year’s Super Bowl is quite an honor. First, I reflect on the unbelievable support that my friends and family gave me and the many people who’ve been touched by the fact that ANYONE can get lung cancer.
I’m so excited to go to the Taste of the NFL! The opportunity to be in Atlanta during the Super Bowl week is going to be a great way to advocate for lung cancer survivors and to bring awareness to ALK lung cancer, genomic testing, early screening and detection, and the need for research. I’m so honored to get the opportunity to represent survivors.~ Gina Hollenbeck
Jeff Meckstroth is represented Team Draft during 2019 NFL Pro Bowl Week in Orlando, FL
Surviving as a lung cancer patient and caregiver it takes teamwork focusing on being who we are ad doing what we love! Our strategy is to be grateful! With modern medicine I am still able to farm and through advocacy efforts Rhonda works to keep me and all lung cancer survivors living life! The team draft platform has provided us an opportunity to add our local Cancer Center to the team and to educate our community about lung cancer. This community is where I’ve spent my entire life working as a firefighter and farmer. The success of our team work has resulted in going to the Pro Bowl for a once-in-a-lifetime experience combining making memories and lung cancer awareness. ~ Jeff Meckstroth
The survivors earned the opportunity to share their powerful stories with key individuals with influence from across the country.
The lung cancer survivors that raised over $5,000 were able to designated a beneficiary (Cancer Center or LC Organization) that will receive 80% of their raised funds (-fees) and the remaining 20% will support Team Draft’s mission to change the face of lung cancer.
Founded by Draft and his late wife Keasha, who died of lung cancer in 2011 at the age of 38, Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding through its Campaign To Change The Face Of Lung Cancer, which is committed to shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The centerpiece of Team Draft’s Campaign is its 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 as a platform to raise critical public awareness about lung cancer on an international level. With the game as a backdrop, we can use each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about the state of lung cancer and the hope that now exists for those battling the disease.” And Team Draft’s efforts are paying off.
“The Super Bowl Challenge achieves amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, the Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center, the cancer center where two of last year’s Super Bowl Challenge winners were treated.
In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America.
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.”
For the survivors who participate, the Super Bowl Challenge is so much more than just 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, Arizona for Super Bowl 49. Paul went on to write the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air — a powerful and moving chronicle of his life and lung cancer journey — before passing away at the age of 37.
2016 Super Bowl Challenge winner, Kim Ringen says, “As a lung cancer survivor, I would highly recommend to anybody to put your hat in the ring because it is so uplifting to be associated with a group of people that are coming together to make a difference.”
To learn more about Team Draft’s 2019 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2019superbowlchallenge
Special thanks to NFL, Astra Zeneca, and all of our Team Draft supporters for helping make this experience possible.
About Team Draft
Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” Despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, Team Draft is out to change all that. To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, or make a donation, please visit www.teamdraft.org.