By Hannah Gebresilassie
MINNEAPOLIS — While thousands visited the Twin Cities to catch Super Bowl 52, others came out with a mission to change the face of lung cancer.
“Our lung cancer survivor Super Bowl Challenge is about giving our survivors an opportunity to raise money and be seen,” said Chris Draft, former NFL linebacker.
Draft and his late wife Keasha, who died of lung cancer in 2011, founded Team Draft, an initiative committed to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing research funding.
“Just like with football, just because you’re going against the New England Patriots doesn’t mean you give up,” Draft said. “They’re not just fighting for themselves, they’re fighting for everybody.”
Lung cancer survivors Linda Wortman and Matt Arensdorf — both non smokers — won this season’s Team Draft Super Bowl Challenge. It’s the first year Team Draft sent two winners to the Super Bowl.
Together, they raised over $100,000 to go toward cancer centers. They also earned an experience at Super Bowl 52, where they advocated and raised awareness.
“It is important to tell your story because you’re not just going to benefit yourself, but the entire community,” Arensdorf said.
Even when it’s challenging, 10-year cancer survivor Wortman shares her story.
“The hardest part about lung cancer is the diagnosis, the treatment, that brings you to your knees,” Wortman said.
But that didn’t stop her from fighting for herself and others.
“Not being alone, but having Team Draft bring us together, so we can show the world that we can be one team working together,” Wortman said.
It’s also not stopping Arensdorf.
“Your life doesn’t stop, so you just keep doing what you do,” Arensdorf said. “I think anybody that’s going through anything can tell you that.”
Next year, Team Draft will send its winner to Atlanta, GA. To learn more about the foundation, visit here.
Hannah serves as a volunteer with Team Draft and is proud to work with the foundation to help change the face of lung cancer.