A Celebration of Survivors and Caregivers
In 2012, Team Draft launched our inaugural Survivor at Every Stadium initiative on CNN during a nationally-televised prime time special focusing on lung cancer and our National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer. Leveraging our connections with the NFL, its teams and players and our relationships with many of the top cancer centers in the country, we arranged to have lung cancer survivors attend games at NFL stadiums across the country during the last two months of the 2012-2013 season. By the time the initiative concluded at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, more than 30 lung cancer survivors representing 30 cancer centers and nearly every NFL team had participated. Given the overwhelming success of our Survivor at Every Stadium initiative, we have expanded it beyond the NFL to the NBA, the NHL and MLS—and to the NFL UK in London! Our Tackling Cancer initiative builds on the success of already established A Survivor at Every Stadium initiative, and celebrates all cancer survivors and caregivers, highlighting the similar journeys for those battling the disease.
What Is The Tackling Cancer Initiative?
While Team Draft’s primary focus has been lung cancer, we recognize that all cancer survivors and caregivers are all on a similar journey, fighting a similar battle. In short, we are all on the same team.
Through our Tackling Cancer initiative, we are working with NFL and NCAA teams to arrange to have cancer survivors (regardless of cancer type) from their local cancer centers and their caregivers participate in a “tackling cancer” football clinic and discussion. Our goals are to create a unique experience for participating survivors and caregivers, to spark discussion and the sharing of information between those battling different types of cancer, and to raise awareness on a local and national level about the importance of having a solid cancer care TEAM for all cancers.
What is Team Draft?
Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation created by nationally recognized health advocate and former NFL linebacker, Chris Draft and his late wife, Keasha during Keasha’s year-long battle with lung cancer. Their hope was that Keasha’s valiant fight to dance, smile and live would give hope, comfort and inspiration to the patients, caregivers and healthcare providers who are battling the disease every day.
While attending Clemson University, Keasha was a member of the Rally Cat’s dance squad before graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering. After graduation, Keasha worked as an engineer while dancing for the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets before working in the pharmaceutical industry. She was an energetic, vibrant young woman who had never smoked when she was diagnosed with Stage IV Lung Cancer in December 2010. At the time, her only “symptom” was a slight shortness of breath a few days earlier. Despite the diagnosis and knowing the long odds they faced, Keasha and Chris decided to fight back. On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side, they launched Team Draft at their wedding. One month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight and died at the age of 38.
Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.” The fact is anybody can get lung cancer. Yet, despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked—including Keasha—are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, which pales in comparison to funding for other major cancers and diseases. Team Draft is out to change all that by using the unique platform available to Chris as a former NFL player and nationally recognized community leader and health advocate to lead a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer—a campaign that has taken us to more than 100 of the top cancer treatment and research centers in North America.