NFL Ambassador and Health Care Advocate Chris Draft Brings Hopeful Message to Lung Cancer Survivors

by LP Green, II

For the second year in a row, former NFL linebacker and Team Draft Co-Founder Chris Draft served as keynote speaker at the nation’s largest gathering of lung cancer survivors—LUNGevity’s National Hope Summit. At the Summit, Draft shared Team Draft’s mission with hundreds of survivors who gathered in Washington for the one-of-a-kind survivorship conference.

Founded by Chris and his wife Keasha, who died of lung cancer in 2011, Team Draft is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and funding through its Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer—a campaign committed to shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.”

“When Keasha and I launched Team Draft, we wanted to impact research funding and improve the quality of life for those affected by lung cancer,” says Draft. “We aren’t fighting against lung cancer, we’re fighting for people, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to bring that fight to the Hope Summit.”

“Chris Draft’s unyielding commitment to shatter the stigma around lung cancer is remarkable,” said Andrea Ferris, President and Chairman of LUNGevity Foundation. “Draft refuses to give up—trading football tackles for the larger lung cancer fight, and LUNGevity is proud to be on the front lines with him.”

While in Washington, Draft visited with Congressman Rick Nolan (MN) to discuss the challenges faced by lung cancer survivors and their families. Congressman Nolan chairs the Lung Cancer Caucus and is the father of a lung cancer survivor.

Team Draft also used the D.C. visit to debut a new video celebrating Team Draft’s second annual Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge. The centerpiece of Team Draft’s Campaign, the Super Bowl Challenge, is a unique fund raising challenge that allows lung cancer survivor-advocates to compete to raise funds for awareness and research. The top three finishers win trips to the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, and Taste of the NFL.

Draft explains, “The Super Bowl Challenge gives us an opportunity to use the overwhelming media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl to raise critical public awareness about lung cancer on an international level. With the game as a backdrop, we use each survivor’s story to weave a broader narrative about lung cancer and the hope that exists for those battling the disease.”

Team Draft’s efforts are paying off. “The Super Bowl 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.

The Super Bowl Challenge is also an innovative fund raising tool designed to support work being done by all those fighting lung cancer. “It takes a team to tackle cancer, and we are proud to support organizations like LUNGevity. Last year, we took the Super Bowl Challenge to the next level, adding a fund raising component that allowed survivor-advocates who raised over $1,000 to commit 50% of those funds to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice,” Draft explains. “Building on the success of last year’s Challenge, we plan to increase that to 80% this year.”

2016 Super Bowl Challenge winners, Kathy Weber and Elizabeth Dessureault, joined Team Draft at the Hope Summit.

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