About Team Draft
May 10, 2011
Our Story – The Courage to Dance, Smile, and Live
Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation created by former NFL linebacker Chris Draft and his late wife Keasha during Keasha’s year-long struggle with Stage IV Lung Cancer. Their hope was that Keasha’s valiant fights 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. Please help us continue the fight by making a donation today and sharing our story.
As a former Charlotte Hornets Honeybee dancer and member of Clemson University’s Rally Cat dance squad, Keasha 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 together 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.
Honoring the Commitment – The National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer
When Chris and Keasha launched Team Draft, they made a commitment to tackle cancer! Team Draft is honoring that commitment 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.
Team Draft launched the campaign in February 2012 during Super Bowl Week in Indianapolis—a week capped off by a special Super Bowl edition of Sunday NFL Countdown, during which ESPN premiered a touching profile of Chris and Keasha, and their commitment to dance, smile, and live as they fought lung cancer together.With the support and donations of people just like you, Team Draft has accomplished a lot since then:
- We established a scholarship fund in Keasha’s honor at her alma mater, Clemson University;
- We established a memorial fund in Keasha’s name supporting lung cancer research;
- We issued an unprecedented challenge to all current and former NFL players and fans to support the campaign by using social media to help raise lung cancer awareness;
- We worked with NBA and NCAA dance teams to raise awareness through dance tributes;
- We have collected and shared the stories of lung cancer survivors, caregivers, and healthcare workers from across the country;
- We have given radio and TV interviews in major media markets across the country; and
- We have visited more than a dozen states and nearly 30 of country’s the top cancer research and treatment facilities.
While we are proud of our success, we know there is still a lot to be done, and we need your help.
Sharing Hope – Why We Campaign
For decades, the facts regarding lung cancer have been sobering:
Anyone can get lung cancer.
- Nearly 50-60% of lung cancers are diagnosed in people who never smoked or in former smokers.
- Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the number #1 cancer killer for women in 1987.
- Lung cancer kills more people than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney, and melanoma cancer combined.
- The 5 year survival rate for lung cancer is just 16%—a rate that has changed very little since the 1970’s.
But, now there is HOPE!
Our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer gives us a front line view of the state of lung cancer research and treatment in America. This is an exciting period in the history of lung cancer treatment. The use of state-of-the-art lung cancer screening techniques is reducing mortality rates by 20% in some patient groups while cutting-edge team-based, multidisciplinary treatment procedures are improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients across the country. And thanks to advances in molecular tumor mutation testing, researchers and treating physicians are developing effective personal lung cancer treatments designed to extend and, ultimately, save lives. This revolutionary treatment approach is starting to yield results: Research have already developed targeted drugs aimed at two of the mutations known to cause lung cancer—drugs that are extending the lives of some patients by as much as 10 months.
The key to making even greater strides (and ultimately saving lives) is funding, but funding for lung cancer research is impacted by the “smoker’s disease” stigma. That’s why Team Draft, is campaigning to change the face of lung cancer. But it takes a team to tackle cancer, and we need your help!
To learn more about Team Draft, join the team, and respond and donate, visit TeamDraft.org. You can follow the national campaign to change the face of lung cancer on our blog and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook.