Atlanta, GA. ATL lung cancer survivor-advocate, and 4th place Super Bowl Challenge winner, Patty Watkins represented Team Draft at the NFC Championship game. Patty watched the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Green Bay Packers in the final game at the Georgia Dome.

What a great day in the city of Atlanta. Jan. 22, 2017.  I and Atlanta will remember that date forever: the big Playoffs for the NFC championship. Atlanta heading to the SUPER BOWL in Houston.  It was stadium’s last day of FALCONS football.  Epic!! I was there thanks to the Chris Draft Foundation’s: SUPER BOWL CHALLENGE for Lung Cancer. I was the new face of lung cancer in the crowd, thanks Chris Draft Foundation’s alliance with the NFL and the Survivor in Every Stadium initiative! A face of hope!
To be a part of that magical evening is nothing short of a miracle actually.  After being diagnosed with Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma in late January 2014 right before Super Bowl 49, I wasn’t sure of my chances of surviving 1 year (only 50% of new cases do), much less 36 months!  A non smoker striken down in the prime of my 57 year old life.  A super fit wife and mother, non smoker.  But something inside my soul told me that I was going to survive. That there was a purpose in my life. I had to fight.  To be a warrior and not let cancer beat me. No matter the dismal facts laid out I always believed there was to be a cure. I live every day in battle with this #1 killer of all cancers.  The least researched, due to the stigma associating lung cancer with smoking.  Even though almost 60% of new cases diagnosed are non smokers like me.

I’m so ready for a cure and for my own home team, Emory,( where I’ve been treated by their fantastic oncology radiation team for my brain mets as well as by Dr. Ramalingan for my lung cancer), to RISE UP like the Falcons. Praying for their researchers to find better treatments, or better yet, a cure.  I’m ready for them to  battle for me and so many others in Atlanta and across the country who are warriors waiting for a cure. I was able to RISE UP $6,200 in donations towards Cabral Franklin Fund at Emory’s Winship Cancer Center, through the Team Draft’s 2017 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge. This fund is specifically set up to target lung cancer research specifically.

I thank The Chris Draft Family Foundation for their tireless efforts to celebrate survivors through experiences like this.  His next experiences are for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners. They head with Team Draft to the Super Bowl, the Pro Bowl and the Taste of NFL, respectively.  Thank you Team Draft for your support and your mission to eradicate lung cancer and the stigma we all face.  And helping to give hope to so many struggling with this disease.  We thank you for knocking on the doors of all the research institutions across the world in our behalf as well. MAY THEY ALL RISE UP!

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.

The Super Bowl Challenge participants were part of a friendly competition, with the top fundraisers awarded trips to Super Bowl LI, the NFL Pro-Bowl, the Taste of the NFL and the NFC Championship game. Patty and the other winners, announced on January 2, 2017, have an opportunity to share their powerful stories with key individuals with influence from across the country.

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.

In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America.  Last year, participants who raised more than $1,000 during the Super Bowl Challenge were able to commit 50% of the funds they raised to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice.

Thanks to the overwhelming success of our annual Super Bowl Challenge, Team Draft is maintaining its commit to 50% if the survivors raise over $1,000, but if survivors raise over $5,000, their designated beneficiary will receive 80% with the remaining 20% going to support Team Draft’s mission to change the face of lung cancer.

Patty has designated his funds to go to Emory’s Winship Cancer Center. The challenge is over, but the fundraising will continue until Super Bowl Sunday. https://www.crowdrise.com/2017SuperBowlChallenge

About Patty Watkins
My name is Patty Watkins wife & mom and I’m a Stage 4 Lung Cancer Survivor/Advocate/WARRIOR. Diagnosed 34 months ago on Jan. 29th at age 57 in otherwise perfect health & totally out of the blue one day. I walked 4 miles a day and participated in group classes 3 x week at the YMCA. I was totally blindsided. Statistics told me that my 5 year survival rate would be in the 1%. But, I don’t believe it! Thanks to the power prayers from prayer warriors to a loving God, incredibly knowledgeable doctors, nurses and cancer researchers looking for precision targeted medicine- I live. All of those key elements have enabled me to live this last 3 years in a fairly normal and very joyful way. I am only one of the MANY faces of lung cancer that are pleading for more funding going into research and new cutting edge targeted drugs to treat this insidious disease that claims more lives that any other cancer! Research, clinical trials with new agents and diagnostic screening are key in eradicating the disease that is the #1 KILLER.