Living here in the Valley, it’s always interesting when the Super Bowl comes in. I can remember the last time it was here, and this year, it feels like it’s grown exponentially. So I wanted to see what was going on and get a good chance to visit with some people from my journey across the league.
I am also here because I wanted the chance to tell people about our Foundation, Colleen’s Dream Foundation, and talk about the things we are accomplishing, as well as spread awareness about ovarian cancer.
We wanted to start an organization that would be bigger than my playing career. We wanted to be an actual player in the ovarian cancer space and make a difference. We’ve gotten off to an amazing start, which I say very humbly. When we first started the organization in December of 2012, we had lofty goals and things that we wanted to get done. Since then, we’ve given out $250,000 in research grants. And we actually just gave out our biggest grant to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for $75,000.
It’s been a true blessing that we’ve been able to carry out the legacy of my mother-in-law. We lost her to this awful disease. We have our big event (a golf tournament and gala) around the third week of February, as close as possible to the anniversary of her passing. It’s our chance to talk about her as much as we possibly can and help people understand what this disease is, understand the signs and symptoms, and hopefully support our efforts to fund research that will get an early detection test and one day a screening tool we can use.
This week I’ve been able to connect with some guys I played with in other places. It’s crazy how many familiar faces you see when you walk through here. But the big thing was talking to media outlets and letting them know what we’re doing. We wanted to establish connections here in Arizona, and it’s interesting because as I’m talking to these people, they are asking things like, do you need more golfers? No, we are actually sold out. Do you need more people to attend your event? No, we are sold out there too. I just want to tell them what we’re doing and hopefully get these people to be a part of our growth because we’ve accomplished a lot in two years and are really starting to turn some heads.
We want to take advantage of the NFL and the situation we have here to let people know what we’re doing while I’m still playing so that when I make the transition out of the game, we’ve already established all these connections and people feel like they’ve been a part of this as we’ve matured.
And we already have so many current and former players involved. Neil Rackers, who’s a friend of mine and was an Arizona Cardinals kicker, loves to be involved with this because he loves to come back and give back the Arizona community. Nick Novak, who I competed with to get the job at the Chiefs (he ended up winning that job, by the way) lost a good friend to ovarian cancer, and now he’s involved. Spencer Lanning, a guy who I’ve become real good friends with and played with the last two years, lost his Grandmother to ovarian cancer. So he got involved in our efforts in Cleveland. This year, we have Mike Nugent coming out to the event. Robbie Gould, Johnny Hecker and Jon Weeks are coming too. These are guys that I’ve either competed against, trained with, played with, you name it.
So many guys are showing their support. And we are only getting started. We are in it to make a real impact.