Patty Watkins is heading to Super Bowl 53 and the Taste of the NFL

February 03, 2019


Patty Watkins is heading to Super Bowl 53 and the Taste of the NFL
Patty Watkins is heading to Super Bowl 53 and the Taste of the NFL
Patty Watkins is heading to Super Bowl 53 and the Taste of the NFL

Atlanta, GA. Lung cancer survivor-advocate Patty Watkins, and her husband Kent, will represent Team Draft and National Lung Cancer Roundtable at Super Bowl 53 and the Taste of the NFL in Atlanta, GA.

In 2014 my life changed overnight. Diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that had metastacized to my pericardium(surrounds heart)with no discernible symptoms but a little wheezing for a month. I was an extremely healthy and “in shape” 57 year old woman. Worked out 5x weeklywith my friends at the YMCA and walked 4 miles daily. Non smoker. Given a dire days to live prognosis that I surpassed and then a directive to my husband to find a nice hospice for me, by my doctor, I still perservere. First I had chemo followed by a new targeted therapy med that failed after 2 years, when I was found to have 19 brain tumors. By now, the lung cancer had spread to my brain., I was treated by multi focused steriotactic radiation 2 X but more cancer grew back to a total of 49 brain tumors. Luckily, I was able to find an clinical trial in Boston with Dr.Alice Shaw (who is a huge researcher and oncologist dealing with my rare mutation called Ros1, which only 1% of lung cancer patients have). She allowed me into a clinical trial that has destroyed all my brain tumors and has kept me NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE for 2 years. I’ll surpass the statistic of being in the 1% that will survive 5 years- in January 2019. This is nothing short of a miracle of God, great doctors, researchers and a new wave of incredible medicine. ~ Patty Watkins

Patty and Kent earned their Super Bowl 53 experience by being the top fundraiser in Team Draft’s 2019 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge.

To be able to attend Super Bowl 53 & represent my fellow lung cancer survivors and the #1 killing cancer, the American Cancer Society whose headquarters is in Atlanta and the home of this year’s Super Bowl is quite an honor.  First, I reflect on the unbelievable support that my friends and family gave me and the many people who’ve been touched by the fact that ANYONE can get lung cancer. How awesome are the donors of auction items the sponsors& plethora of friends from far and near that attended the luncheon. The tables that were procured to help me reach the goal that I’d set for the Pearls Luncheon held in November, Lung Cancer Awareness month. I’m so humbled that 134 of my friends came to my pearls luncheon to support lung cancer research.  I formulated my plan in early spring in order to connect with the biggest player in cancer, the American Cancer Society. To have them connect with a lung cancer survivor and do a joint venture to raise money for research for their National Lung Cancer Round Table’s project investigating why there is such an uptick in the number of women getting lung cancer? Why? Cure Magazine says, is there going to be a 46% increase in women getting lung cancer by 2030?  This is daunting and frightening! You would think with the might of the largest cancer organization in the world there would have been much more money raised. Don’t get me wrong, I’m ecstatic that I have earned this trip to the biggest day there is in the sporting world, but know we could have raised so much more! In my mind I had us raising AT LEAST a quarter of a $$ million dollars. It’s attainable. ~ Patty Watkins 

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.

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.

“The Super Bowl Challenge achieves amazing things in terms of public awareness and changing perceptions about lung cancer,” says Dr. Ross Camidge, the Director of Thoracic Oncology at Colorado University Cancer Center, the cancer center where two of last year’s Super Bowl Challenge winners were treated.

In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America.

Of this aspect of the Super Bowl Challenge, Dr. Camidge says, “you need somebody working on the national level. You need somebody working on the local level. Everybody wins.”

**The Challenge is over but the fundraising continues until the day after the Super Bowl, February 4, 2019 at 3amEST/12amPST.

Patty has raised over $5,000 so her beneficiary, The American Cancer Society’s National Lung Cancer Roundtable, will receive 80% of her raised funds (-fees) and the remaining 20% will support Team Draft’s mission to change the face of lung cancer.

With the American Cancer Society’s support I will expect an even better fundraiser in 2 weeks with Celebrate in White! We are expecting 200 people at $100 per ticket.  There’s a great band and great food by the best caterer in Atlanta. There will be trips and memorabilia up for auction.  This should be a blockbuster.  I have Pfizer as a sponsor in kind as well as a few others. ~ Patty Watkins

For the survivors who participate, the Super Bowl Challenge is so much more than just a fundraiser.

“Team Draft has really helped boost our family’s spirits during this challenging time,” says Dr. Lucy Kalanithi. In 2015, Lucy and her husband, Dr. Paul Kalanithi, won Team Draft’s inaugural Super Bowl Challenge and were able to join Team Draft in Phoenix, Arizona for Super Bowl 49.  Paul went on to write the bestselling memoir When Breath Becomes Air — a powerful and moving chronicle of his life and lung cancer journey — before passing away at the age of 37.

2016 Super Bowl Challenge winner, Kim Ringen says, “As a lung cancer survivor, I would highly recommend to anybody to put your hat in the ring because it is so uplifting to be associated with a group of people that are coming together to make a difference.”

In 2019 I’d love to challenge all my fellow lung cancer survivors to hop on board Team Draft. Join us in raising money for funding that can go to your favorite org or research facility like: Lungevity, Bonnie Addario, IASLC, ASCO, LFCA,LCRF, National Lung Cancer Round Table your cancer center!  We should and need to have a great team made of survivors from across the country in order to make the changes that need to happen in the lung cancer community!  Chris Draft has worked hard to unite all of us as a team. His strategic plan works.  Unite and Fight! It’ hard to do it by yourself but when you become a team mate you have so much support and you can make a difference in your own community. I’d love to talk to any of you thinking about joining us.  I’ve had a few wonderful and supportive messages from friends in the community that want to be a part of this great change. I’d love to hear from you!  Happy New Year and let’s make 2019 the best year ever by being a purposeful and cohesive group that raises hundreds of thousands of $$ for lung cancer research. ~ Patty Watkins, 2019 Super Bowl Challenge winner

To learn more about Team Draft’s 2019   Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/2019superbowlchallenge

Special thanks to NFL, Astra Zeneca, and all of our Team Draft supporters for helping make this experience possible.

About Team Draft

Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, is dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing research funding by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.”  Despite the fact that between 20,000 and 30,000 people who have never smoked are diagnosed with lung cancer in the United States each year, the smoking stigma negatively impacts lung cancer research funding, Team Draft is out to change all that. To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, or make a donation, please visit www.teamdraft.org.