Aug 24, 2013
PITTSBURGH - When the Pittsburgh Panthers and Florida State Seminoles open their 2013 college football seasons versus one another on Labor Day, the teams won't only be fighting for the first victory of the young season. The two squads will join forces to fight for a very personal cause for FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher. Both schools announced today that they will each wear a special `I Fight Fanconi' Kidz1stFund decal on the back of their helmets during the nationally televised ESPN broadcast.
In the spring of 2011, Jimbo and Candi Fisher's youngest son Ethan was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare and serious blood disease. The Fisher's began Kidz1stFund later that fall to raise awareness and FA research dollars at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital in hopes of finding a cure.
Pittsburgh head coach Paul Chryst felt especially drawn to help the Fisher's and Kidz1stFund after the story of 2-year-old Logan Stevenson became national news. The terminally ill boy from western Pennsylvania, about 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh, served as the best man in his parents wedding before passing away on August 6. Logan was born with Fanconi anemia and shortly after his first birthday diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
"I thought it was a tremendous gesture by Coach Chryst and the University of Pittsburgh for suggesting that we wear the decal," said Fisher. "Candi and I and our foundation can't be anymore thankful as this will continue to bring awareness for the fight against Fanconi anemia that affects many. I can't thank the University of Pittsburgh enough for such a great idea."
"In talking to Jimbo this summer, we felt our ESPN nationally televised primetime opener was the perfect opportunity to help build awareness about Fanconi," said Chryst. "Awareness and education will hopefully lead to more impactful research and funding that will eventually lead to a cure. College football really is like an extended family and we are proud to team with fellow ACC member Florida State on this tremendously important effort."
Patients with FA may have a variety of health issues including short in stature, dark and light areas of skin, abnormalities of the arms and hands, kidney problems, heart defects, hearing problems and many others. Some patients have no physical manifestation, but nearly all will have a decline in their blood counts over time, eventually leading to bone marrow failure. FA is something present at birth. The FA genes are responsible for preventing cancer and bone marrow failure by repairing DNA damage that occurs in everyday life (from sun exposure, x-rays, chemicals in our food and surroundings). Without this restorative ability, people with FA have a significantly higher chance of developing certain types of cancers at a much earlier age than the general population.
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