NFL Ambassador and International Health Care Advocate, Chris Draft, Attends Signing Ceremony At The White House For 21st Century Cures Act
December 23, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law, and former NFL linebacker and Team Draft Co-Founder, Chris Draft, was on hand. Draft was invited by President Obama and Vice President Biden to attend the historic signing ceremony in recognition of Team Draft’s work to raise lung cancer awareness through its National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer and, in particular, its efforts to increase lung cancer screening among veterans.
“Words can’t describe how honored I felt to represent the cancer community at this historic event,” said Draft.
The Cures Act is a sweeping piece bipartisan health care legislation intended to expand medical research and speed up the approval process for new drugs and medical devices. Among other things, the Cures Act invests $1.8 billion in new resources in support of Vice President Biden’s “Cancer Moonshot.” In a Statement released earlier this month, President Obama said that thanks to the Cures Act, “[w]e are now one step closer to ending cancer as we know it.”
In his final State of the Union address, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to head up an unprecedented national effort to end cancer, a challenge that became the Cancer Moonshot. The goal of the Cancer Moonshot is to make a decade’s worth advances in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment in five years. To achieve that goal, the Vice President forged partnerships with leading health care and advocacy groups—groups like Team Draft—to help design and implement programs intended to dramatically accelerate the rate of progress in cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Since the official launch of the Cancer Moonshot, Team Draft has been working closely with the Vice President’s office, lending its expertise and unique platform to help craft solutions to the problems facing those battling this disease. Currently, Team Draft is working with the Cancer Moonshot Task Force and the Veterans Administration to expand lung cancer screenings for the nation’s veterans—a program Team Draft has been leading for four years.
“Having played in the NFL for twelve years, I understand the importance of a strong team,” says Draft who lost his wife, Keasha, to lung cancer five years ago. “It takes a team to tackle cancer, and we are proud to partner with Vice President Biden and the Veterans Administration to take care of our veterans and shine the light on the critically important role early detection plays in providing real hope in the fight against lung cancer,” Draft continues.
Today, only 15% of lung cancers are diagnosed at an early, curable stage. But thanks to state-of-the-art screening techniques like those funded by the 21st Century Cures Act and supported by the Cancer Moonshot, lung cancer mortality rates have dropped by 20% in some patient groups. As Draft explains, “other cancers, like breast cancer and prostate cancer, have given us the playbook for lowering the lung cancer mortality rate, and it starts with early detection backed up by quality care.”
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 proud that Team Draft is helping to lead the fight to end cancer as we know it through the Cancer Moonshot.”
After leaving Washington, Team Draft is headed to New York City where the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell will host a Tackling Lung Cancer Survivors Luncheon at the TriBeCa Grill for area doctors and lung cancer survivors—including survivors who are participating in Team Draft’s third annual Lung Cancer Survivor’s Super Bowl Challenge. The event is being sponsored by Myraid Genetics.
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.
In addition to raising critical public awareness, the Super Bowl Challenge also raises funds for lung cancer organizations and treatment centers across North America. Participating survivors who raise more than $1,000 during the Super Bowl Challenge may commit 50% of the funds they raised to a lung cancer organization or cancer center of their choice while survivors who raise more than $5,000 will be given the opportunity to commit 80% of the funds they raise to the lung cancer organization of their choice. 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. I think everybody wins.” He went on to encourage other cancer centers to “get behind” their survivors and “to do everything to work within a partnership with them to raise awareness and raise funds.”
“The Super Bowl and Pro Bowl are a fitting time to spotlight the crusade to change the face of lung cancer,” says Draft. “The level of commitment, drive and passion required to make it this far parallels the efforts required to get lung cancer research the next level.”
But for Draft, the Super Bowl Challenge is also intensely personal. “The day my wife was diagnosed with lung cancer, she made the decision to live each day to the fullest,” he says. “When you’re in what is literally a life and death struggle like Keasha and I were in, you realize that moments matter,”—moments like the trip Chris and Keasha took to Dallas to watch the Super Bowl shortly after her diagnosis. “It was something she had always wanted to do,” says Draft, “and being with her at that game is a memory I will cherish forever.” Now, Team Draft is giving other lung cancer survivors and their families the opportunity to create similar memories through the Super Bowl Challenge.
To learn more about Team Draft’s 2017 Lung Cancer Survivors Super Bowl Challenge, to sign-up to participate in this year’s challenge, or to make a donation in support of a participating survivor, visit https://www.crowdrise.com/2017SuperBowlChallenge.
About Team Draft
Team Draft, an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation, 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. “If we can take away the stigma that says you have to be a smoker to get lung cancer, we have a real chance to educate people about the true nature of the disease,” explains Draft.
To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, or make a donation, please visit www.teamdraft.org.