Hours away from tonight’s highly-anticipated BCS National Championship game in Pasadena, Calif., Florida State University’s head football coach, Jimbo Fisher, is already celebrating a tremendous victory off the field. In addition to leading the No. 1 football program to the championship for the first time since 1999, Jimbo and his wife, Candi, made huge strides this season toward raising awareness and funds to fight Fanconi anemia (FA) – a rare blood disease plaguing their eight-year-old son, Ethan.
Affecting 1 in 130,000 people annually, FA is difficult to spot and not yet possible to cure, leading to birth defects, bone marrow failure and cancer diagnoses. Nearly 100 percent of patients need bone marrow transplants before adulthood, and even then, survivors have an average life expectancy of 29 years old.
Immediately following Ethan’s diagnosis in 2011, the Fishers spearheaded the creation of Kidz1stFund to improve treatment options, raise national awareness and help fund research that will ultimately lead to a cure for FA.
“My job is to win football games, and being successful has provided a huge platform to raise awareness for this disease,” Coach Fisher said. “Candi and I truly believe that God sometimes puts difficult things in your life, but he always has a plan. God put us on this path and we have chosen to fight FA head on for Ethan and all the others.”
In three years, Kidz1stFund has donated more than $1.8 million for the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children’s Hospital, the largest treatment center for FA patients in the country.
With an annual donation goal of $500,000, the Fishers were thrilled to present the third check on behalf of Kidz1stFund last week for $800,000.
“Every contribution makes a world of difference in the research efforts to find a cure,” Candi Fisher said. “Time is not on anyone’s side with this disease, so we must work fast.”
Thanks to the support of fans and families across the country, the Kidz1stFund has more than doubled the university’s original operating budget. The Fishers vow to continue this momentum through another successful football season.
To learn more about Fanconi anemia, visit www.kidz1stfund.com.