Archive for the ‘Keasha Rutledge Draft’ Category

Keasha Rutledge Draft

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Dance ~ Smile ~ Live

Dance ~ Smile ~ Live

Lakeasha (Keasha) Monique Rutledge Draft, 38, of Atlanta, Georgia departed this earth on Tuesday, December 27, 2011.

Born on May 13, 1973 to Tommy and Gail Rutledge in Anderson, South Carolina, she was always a shining star while she attended the Palmetto schools of Anderson District One, and graduated a year early with honors. Keasha was a faithful member of her family church New Prospect Baptist Church of Williamston, SC. Always active and ambitious, Keasha participated in many organizations from National Honor Society to earning the title of captain on the varsity cheerleading squad. She was known for her phenomenal dancing ability, although her track and field accomplishments were stellar also, as she placed first in the high jump at the state meet every year from seventh through twelfth grade. She still holds the school record for high jump. As a Clemson University student, she was a well-loved classmate, dancer for the Rallycats and was inducted into the Lambda Theta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in the Spring of 1992. Keasha received her Bachelors of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Clemson University in 1995. She began her career in engineering for Cutler-Hammer. Keasha was an NBA dancer and beloved teammate for the Charlotte Hornets Honeybees. She began working as a pharmaceutical sales representative for Sanofi-Aventis in Charlotte and transferred to Atlanta, Georgia where she worked until her illness transpired. On November 27, 2011, she married her long-time sweetheart, Christopher Draft.

Keasha leaves to cherish beautiful memories her loving husband, Chris Draft; parents, Tommy and Gail Rutledge; parents-in-law, Anthony and Rose Draft; maternal grandmother, Wilma Clement; paternal grandmother, Synola Rutledge; and a host of relatives and friends.

In honor of Keasha’s admirable vibrant spirit, celebrate each day, dance often, smile, laugh, and embrace life.

~MUAH. Peace.

Keasha Rutledge Draft–Changing the Face of Lung Cancer from TEAM DRAFT on Vimeo.

Team Draft and Team LIVESTRONG® Challenge Series Heads to Philadelphia to Champion Cancer Survivors

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Team Draft and Team LIVESTRONG® Challenge Series Heads to Philadelphia to Champion Cancer Survivors.  Lance Armstrong to Participate in Run and Ride at Seventh Annual Philly Challenge and Chris Draft to Serve as Keynote Speaker and Participate in Run.

The 2012 Team LIVESTRONG Challenge Series will return to Philadelphia Aug. 18-19 for the seventh time. The two-day event includes a 5K or 10K walk/run on Saturday and a multi-distance bike ride on Sunday, with distances ranging from 20-100 miles, providing options for a wide-range of fitness levels. Lance Armstrong, cancer survivor, cycling champion and founder and chairman of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, will attend the weekend’s events and participate in both the run and ride. Chris Draft, former NFL linebacker and founder of the Chris Draft Family Foundation (CDFF), will participate in the run and serve as the keynote speaker at the fundraising dinner on Saturday.

“I am looking forward to joining our enthusiastic and dedicated supporters for the seventh annual Team LIVESTRONG Challenge in Philly,” said Armstrong. “This weekend is a great opportunity for us to unite in the fight against cancer and actively support the 28 million people affected by cancer worldwide.”

Team Draft, an initiative of the CDFF launched by Draft and his late wife Keasha during Keasha’s year-long battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer, is leading a national campaign to change the face of lung cancer by shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a “smoker’s disease.”

“Cancer came into my house, and it took my wife. Too many families are affected by this horrible disease. It’s time to respond,” said Draft. “That’s why Keasha and I launched Team Draft. She wanted to be an inspiration to those battling the disease and we wanted to raise awareness so that other families wouldn’t have to go through what we went through. Team Draft is committed to changing the face of lung cancer, but it takes a team to tackle cancer, and we are proud to work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation for this year’s Team LIVESTRONG Challenge.”

The Team LIVESTRONG Challenge is the Foundation’s popular three-part series in Team LIVESTRONG’s roster of more than two-dozen athletic events designed to raise funds for the fight against cancer. The Challenge inspires and empowers individuals, teams, families, friends and co-workers to unite in the fight against the world’s leading cause of death. One hundred percent of participant and donor gifts to the LIVESTRONG Challenge series go directly to support cancer programs and initiatives. Since 1997, the Challenge events have raised more than $70 million.

In the 2011 Philly Challenge, more than 5,000 participants raised more than $2.6 million for the fight against cancer. To date, the LIVESTRONG Challenge Philly has raised more than $16 million since 2006. Philadelphia will be the second stop in this year’s series, which kicked off in Davis, Calif. in June and ends in Austin, Texas on Oct. 21. The Philly Challenge takes place at Montgomery County Community College. Those interested in registering can visit

About the Lance Armstrong Foundation
The Lance Armstrong Foundation serves people affected by cancer and empowers them to take action against the world’s leading cause of death. With its iconic yellow LIVESTRONG wristband, the Foundation became a symbol of hope and inspiration to people affected by cancer throughout the world. Created in 1997 by cancer survivor and champion cyclist Lance Armstrong, the Foundation provides free patient navigation services to survivors with financial, emotional and practical challenges that accompany the disease. Known for its powerful brand – LIVESTRONG – the Foundation is also a leader in the global movement on behalf of 28 million people living with cancer today. Since its inception in 1997, the Foundation has raised nearly $500 million for the fight against cancer. For more information, visit

Team Draft is leading a National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer, and has visited over 45 Centers across the United States, and Canada. Our blog, The Draft Report is our way of sharing the stories of the amazing doctors and researchers who are working diligently to save lives, and improve the chances of people affected by cancer. Please help us continue the FIGHT! RespondIT TAKES A TEAM TO TACKLE LUNG CANCER!

Family, friends honor Keasha Rutledge Draft’s memory

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Family, friends honor Keasha Rutledge Draft

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

CLEMSON, SC (FOX Carolina) -
Chris Draft, a former NFL linebacker, first met LaKeasha Rutledge back in 2006 in Charlotte, NC.

“It’s crazy how things work together,” Draft said. “My cousin met a friend of hers up in New York City.”

Back in 2006, Draft was making moves on the football field with the Carolina Panthers. Before they met, Keasha Rutledge danced with the NBA Charlotte Hornets’ Honeybees and worked as an engineer.

While they dated, Draft played for several teams and in 2010 he retired. During that time, Rutledge decided to train for the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston.

“She really wanted to run it, so she was training,” Draft said. “She was in shape. She was strong, and because of that she just felt this little shortness of breath.”

That shortness of breath led to chest X-rays and a CT scan.

“She got the chest X-ray and the results came back and there was a mass,” Draft said. “That was right before Christmas in 2010. She got a biopsy a couple days after Christmas and it was confirmed it was lung cancer.”

At 37 years old, Rutledge, a non-smoker, was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

“In football we’re taught and told this could be the last game that you play,” Draft said. “And this situation was one of those that takes that so much more to that extreme.”

During those months, they made a commitment to fight. And on Nov. 27, 2011, in front of family and friends, Draft and Rutledge made another commitment to one another and got married.

“That’s my wife!” Draft said. “That’s my wife! You know? We’re going to hold on and we’re going to fight. We’re going to continue to fight.”

He said Keasha Rutledge Draft danced, smiled and lived each day and encouraged others to do the same.

A month to the day after they were married, Keasha Rutledge Draft died.

“And what helped her live was great family, great friends that remembered her of the importance of standing up and being a woman,” Draft said.

So now, instead of pads and a helmet, Draft suits up for Team Draft.

He doesn’t travel with a team of linebackers, receivers or running backs, but he still goes from city to city but with a new playbook. The new game plan is to raise money for lung cancer research in Keasha Rutledge Draft’s honor.

“Our hope is that when people think of lung cancer, they’re not going to think of a cigarette anymore,” Draft said. “But they’ll see Keasha, they’ll see her face and they’ll realize it’s people, it’s not just a disease, it’s people who need our help. I don’t want to see Keasha just as someone that passed away from lung cancer, but really someone that lived.”

Those who love her want to continue to honor her strength. Tiko Thurman, Keasha Rutledge Draft’s cousin, said she was more like a sister.

“We (were) just extremely close,” Thurman said.

Keasha Rutledge Draft grew up in Williamston and as an only child, family members said faith and family came first. She graduated from high school an academic scholar and chose to attend Clemson University. She graduated with a degree in electrical engineering.

“She was just that person when she walked into a room, things would change, people would brighten up,” Thurman said.

So, when doctors diagnosed her with stage four lung cancer, it was hard to understand.

“When Keasha got it, it really just opened my eyes to this is a deadly disease that can attack anyone, the healthiest person,” Thurman said.

Dr. Billy Bolton, a thoracic surgeon with the Greenville Hospital System didn’t treat Keasha Rutledge Draft but said her story is unfortunately a familiar one. Keasha Rutledge Draft had a form of lung cancer known as non-small cell lung cancer.

“Non-small cell lung cancer makes up the majority of lung cancer in the United States; about 75 to 85 percent of all patients,” Bolton said.” So what happens is there’s a mutation in that cell of the lung and then it continues to grow more rapidly than the other cells in that lung.”

Bolton said often times the diagnosis can be linked to two factors.

“Those two factors – secondhand smoke and radon gas, probably account for the majority of them,” Bolton said.

But he said progress is being made with research and new medicines.

“I think it would mean a whole lot to be able to see your mom and dad for four or five more years or however long it might be,” Bolton said.

One of Keasha Rutledge Draft’s closest friends, Jessie Hood, said her friend had a way of making others feel special.

“She would never ask, I never heard her say why me? She just accepted that this is what God had for her and she was going to fight,” Hood said.

They met at Clemson University and became sorority sisters.

“Her life was very special. She was a special person, she was a beautiful person, she had such capacity to love. Her heart was so big. She was an academic scholar, but she was the life of the party. She was a dancer, but she was an engineer too and she just lived each day,” Hood said.

She said her friend would light up the floor when she danced as a rally cat at Clemson, or when she shared intimate moments with friends and family.

“Her relationship with her mother was very special. Not only did they have a mother-daughter relationship, but they were really best friends too,” Hood said.

So in her honor, the Keasha Rutledge Draft Memorial Scholarship is set up for Clemson students.

“Not only are we helping future Clemson undergraduate students, we’re also helping the university,” Hood said.

And Thurman said he always knew his cousin would do big things, and though it’s tough without her, he said he’s learned a lot about life by witnessing the way she lived.

“Make sure that we make everyday a positive day. Make sure we find great things in everyday and just live life like God intended us to do. He said he wants us to live life and live it more abundantly,” Thurman said.

If you would like to be a part of Team Draft, you can donate to the Keasha Rutledge Draft Memorial Scholarship fund. All donations are tax deductible and benefit the Clemson fund.

Family and friends honor Keasha Rutledge Draft, who died after battling stage four lung cancer.

Team Draft’s National Campaign Cancer Tours Lombardi – Inside GUMC – Georgetown University Medical Center GUMC

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

 Inside GUMC – Georgetown University Medical Center GUMC.

Team Draft Tours Lombardi

A radiant, smiling picture of former NFL linebacker Chris Draft’s wife Keasha was never far from sight as he toured Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center on June 21.

As Draft walked through the clinic and the new state-of-the-art infusion center, full of questions about the facility and kind words for the patients he encountered, he would frequently pull up Keasha’s photos on his iPad to show those around him.

Looking at her youthful, healthy images, it is difficult to believe Keasha passed away from lung cancer at age 38 on December 27, 2011 – one month to the day after she and Draft were married. A former dancer, Keasha had never smoked and had always been physically active and fit before she was diagnosed with stage IV small cell lung cancer.

Draft, who retired from the NFL in 2010 after playing for numerous teams including the Washington Redskins, hopes people will stop in disbelief when they hear his and Keasha’s story and see her pictures. That’s part of his goal.

“I am determined to show a new face of lung cancer. I’m not trying to make it anything other than what it is, but want to make sure we tell the complete story,” Draft said during his visit.

Telling the Complete Story

The “complete story” is that lung cancer can affect anyone – including nonsmokers like Keasha. In fact, it is among the biggest killers out there – accounting for more deaths than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney and skin cancers combined. Draft wants to shatter the misconception that people who get lung cancer somehow have brought it on themselves through smoking or other adverse behaviors.

Now devoting much of his time to building awareness of the disease and raising funds for research through his Chris Draft Family Foundation, Draft is on the road a lot these days, visiting cancer centers nationwide in an effort to spread a message of hope about the progress of lung cancer research.

While at Georgetown Lombardi, he met with members of the senior leadership team and interested researchers. Unassuming and approachable, Draft came alone, armed with just his iPad, a camera and a hand-held video camera.

He filmed a short video of Deepa Subramaniam, M.D., assistant professor in the division of hematology/oncology, discussing the vast heterogeneity of lung cancer types and the promise of personalized medicine.

According to Subramaniam, lung cancer in people who have never smoked accounts for approximately 15 percent of all lung cancer cases now. The incidence among nonsmokers and women is on the rise, and researchers are learning just how distinct the disease can be from patient to patient, and from tumor to tumor.

Individualized therapies that target unique tumor characteristics will be the answer to responding to this scourge, Subramaniam said, and to forging a “new paradigm in the classification of lung cancer.”

“We will gradually chip away at each slice of the lung cancer pie. We are going to cure those who can be cured, and convert the disease in those who cannot be cured into a chronic disease,” she said.

To view Draft’s video of Subramaniam, visit

For more information on Draft’s foundation and the national campaign to change the face of lung cancer,

By Lauren Wolkoff, Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center

(Published June 29, 2012)

Chris Draft Pushes for Lung Cancer Death Decrease, in Honor of Late Wife

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Linebacker Chris Draft tackled tough for several NFL teams—and played to win. But, when the Redskins released him in 2010, he faced an opponent he couldn’t beat.

His fiancée, Keasha, who had never smoked, had stage four lung cancer.

Last November, chronicled in a poignant video that went viral, the two got married. With a beautiful white dress and an oxygen tank, Keasha walked the final few steps, and she and Chris exchanged vows.

Exactly one month later, Keasha died. She was 38.

Now Draft is a man on a mission, meeting with lung cancer groups and lobbying Congress to pass the “Lung Cancer Mortality Reduction Act,” which calls for the government to come up with a plan to cut lung cancer deaths in half by 2020.

This year alone, 160,000 Americans will die of lung cancer—by far the biggest cancer killer of all.

Even though smoking is the number one cause, the lung cancer alliance says the 60 percent of new lung cancer cases are people who quit—many decades ago—and 20 percent never smoked.

Charity Spotlight—Team Draft

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Ex-NFL linebacker Chris Draft knows about fighting for air, not due to smoking or a high altitude climb but because he lives with asthma that often landed him in the hospital. As much as he appreciated each breath during his football years, the fight behind it grew crystal clear when Keasha, his love at the time was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. She became the surprising face of lung cancer at age 37.

Keasha, once a Charlotte Hornets Honeybee dancer and a member of the Clemson University Rally Cat dance squad, struggled for breath and fought to dance, smile, and live even as her body weakened.

According to the CDC, more people die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. Roughly 200,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer yearly (tens of thousands of them never smoked) and about 150,000 die from the disease each year. Its virulence tends to cause death within months rather than years. That is why Keasha and Draft could no longer allow their busy schedules and other priorities to interfere with their relationship.

They met in 2006 when Draft played for the Carolina Panthers. He moved on to the Rams team in 2007 and the Bills a couple of years later, and then the Bears, which made time with Keasha periodic. Retirement from the Washington Redskins in 2010 finally brought them together full time. Soon Keasha would learn about her advanced lung cancer. Eight months after the diagnosis, Draft asked for her hand in marriage. He wanted to spend every remaining breath with her as husband and wife, be it a day or a second.

On November 27, 2011, they sat side by side to solidify their union and stood side by side to solidify their fight against lung cancer with the launch of Team Draft, dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness and increasing badly needed research funding by shattering misconceptions about lung cancer as strictly a “smoker’s disease,” self-inflicted by poor life choices. Keasha, who never smoked, died of lung cancer in December 2011 after just five weeks of marriage.

In February, Team Draft, under the Chris Draft Family Foundation, took its campaign national in honor of Keasha’s courage during life. The organization issued a challenge to all current and former NFL players and fans to support the campaign by using social media to spread lung cancer awareness.

The website imparts trends in the prevention of lung cancer, the disease’s prevalence and mortality, and emerging treatments. It is a place to share personal stories and upcoming events by the Draft foundation and numerous partner organizations.

“Our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer,” said Draft, “gives us a frontline 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 groups, while cutting-edge, team-based multidisciplinary treatment procedures are improving the quality of life for lung cancer patients across the country.

“And,” added Draft, “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.”

Early detection, as in the case of most cancers is critical. Symptoms may differ by individual or not appear at all. The more evident symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing that does not go away, coughing up blood, wheezing, chest pain, and repeated respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or pneumonia.

Better yet is lowering the risk of developing lung cancer by, as most Americans know, not smoking and by avoiding secondhand smoke. Less well known are the benefits of testing one’s home for radon gas and ionizing radiation, then correcting any problems. The CDC also recommends avoiding asbestos and any unnecessary medical radiation to the chest. Experts say treating chronic lung diseases and infections, likewise, can help, as does recognizing the risk of lung cancer increases with age and informing doctors of relevant family medical history.

“The key to making even greater strides (and alternatively saving lives) is funding,” concludes Draft, “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.”

Lung cancer can develop in anyone. Draft has taken this message nationwide to primary schools, universities, TV interviews, and to NBA and NCAA dance teams. During his stop in Philadelphia, he visited patients at Children’s Hospital and met members of the National Lung Cancer Partnership Pennsylvania chapter. He talked with students at the Philadelphia High School of Creative and Performing Arts about the importance of music and the use of music therapy to treat patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Similar stops were just made in Chicago and Northern California. Draft is now on route to the NFL’s Rookie Symposium in Canton, Ohio where he will speak to the latest rookie class about being leaders on the field and in the community. Along the way, this week’s schedule includes visits to Georgetown University’s Lombardi Cancer Center in Washington, DC and the Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Such top cancer research treatment centers can look to Team Draft for a platform to reach more Americans, in addition to funding that extends their work.

Chris Draft wants the public to know that any success he has is not achieved alone. Respond and Donate Today

Courtesy of  of the Philadelphia Charity Examiner

Hank Baskett And Chris Draft Teamed Up With The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation To Raise $145,000 To Drive This #1 Cancer Killer Off The Map

Friday, June 15th, 2012

The Former NFL Duo is Rallying a Star-Studded List of Hollywood and Athletic Celebrities to Join Them in Their Personal Journey to Tackle Lung Cancer

Hank: I’m here to support Bonnie’s Foundation because Lung Cancer is personal to me. It has swooped in and attacked my dad, and I understand how brutally destructive this cancer is and how many people are waging war to battle it.

Chris: I am honored to be here and passionate about helping an organization like the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation that is leading the way, and pushing for immediate answers – not future hypotheses, for people like my wife, who never smoked and was in great physical shape, but was diagnosed with Lung Cancer and died less than a year later. Bonnie is demanding answers NOW!

Hank: Every breath you take-the fuel of your body starts with your lungs. So take care of your lungs because you’ll need them-more than you’ll ever imagine. Trust me.

Bonnie: I get the breathing thing…I know it first hand and I know what it feels like when you can’t. It is our FUEL. Without it, life is terribly compromised…just having the support of Chris and Hank takes my breath away-in the good way!

SAN FRANCISCO, June 20, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — While the U.S. Open was in full swing just 15 minutes away at the Olympic Club in San Francisco, 144 heroes including NFL stars Chris Draft and Hank Baskett were championing the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation’s Seventh Annual “Lung Cancer: Drive it off the Earth” Golf Tournament at Alistair MacKenzie-designed Green Hills Country Club. This year’s tournament raised more than $145,000 for this least-funded, yet most deadly cancer, which will go toward Lung Cancer research.
For both players, Lung Cancer is personal. Baskett, signed by the Colts and went on to play five years in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts, Minnesota Vikings, and the Philadelphia Eagles is helping his father battle the disease. Draft, played 12 years in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, St. Louis Rams, and the Buffalo Bills recently lost his wife to the disease. Together, they are tackling Lung Cancer by raising awareness.

“We’re proud that Hank Baskett and Chris Draft are making a bold statement against Lung Cancer,” says Bonnie J. Addario, founder and a Lung Cancer survivor. “We’re so honored to have Hank and Chris-and their football and Hollywood friends-on our team helping to raise much-needed funding and awareness for Lung Cancer and the message that ANYONE CAN GET LUNG CANCER.”

The reception cocktail party, silent and live auctions and raffle proved that everyone was a winner. Addario, one of the rare Lung Cancer survivors and founder of the Foundation, welcomed Draft and Baskett into the Foundation’s family at dinner.

“I’m so proud to have Hank and Chris in our family,” said Bonnie. “Hank, I loved meeting your Dad at the tournament you held for us in May at the Trump National Golf Club. The only way I can describe him is he’s a GREAT BIG HUG and your mom is a pistol. The leadership and courage you and Chris are bringing to the team has grown way beyond the football field. Thank you for stepping up and helping us turn Lung Cancer into a manageable, survivable disease.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house after an airing of “Chris Draft, Love and Loss,” (’s touching profile of Chris and his late wife Keasha, and their commitment to dance, smile, and live as they fought Lung Cancer together. 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.

“The only way to tackle the issue of Lung Cancer is to do it as a solid team bringing together everyone from the patients and caregivers to the researchers and the doctors who are demanding that the results so far are not good at all,” said Draft. “There’s no one group that has a monopoly on this and that is why I was drawn to Bonnie and the foundation because they are working as a team with (ALCMI) Addario Lung Cancer Medical Institute and their Lung Cancer Living Room® series. ( What separates them is that Bonnie knows there is a sense of urgency. Keasha had one year from her diagnosis, so I don’t listen when someone says ‘we’re working on it.” That’s not good enough.”

First place winners of the sold-out tournament were Michael Vasquez, Greg Gabbani, Josh Lutz and many-time winner Eddie Hernandez with an astounding 54. Second place winners were Rich Deponte, Stan Colombo, Dan Poncabra and long-time faithful major donor Mo Townsley with a score of 55.

The tournament’s presenting sponsor’s team from the Burns Family Foundation and Mobius Fit was led by Rob Dean and the foursome including Dave Engel, Ross Headley and Jeff Lokey came in third with a score of 56 (26 back 9).

Team Draft: Notes From the National Campaign Trail

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Sunday, May 13th would have been Keasha’s 39th birthday.  Team Draft marked the occasion by kicking off a week-long bicoastal tour in support of our national campaign to change the face of lung cancer.  The tour took Team Draft to our 30th cancer treatment facility, to the set of Dancing With The Stars, and to Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers.  And none of this would have been possible without the generation support and donations of people like you.  Please help us continue the campaign by making a donation today:

 Finding HOPE on the West Coast

 Team Draft began the tour in Southern California.  On Monday, we had the opportunity to sit down with the newly-appointed Director of Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego, Dr. Scott Lippman.  And on Wednesday, Team Draft achieved a major milestone when we visited our 30th cancer treatment facility since launching the national campaign: USC’s Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Thanks to cutting-edge research like that being performed at these state-of-the-art facilities, for the first time in decades, there is hope in the fight against lung cancer.

Applying revolutionary genomic approaches, researchers have now identified the molecular changes in certain genes that cause some lung cancer tumors to grow.  This discovery opens the door for the development of targeted drugs designed to stop tumor growth in its tracks by interfering with the growth receptors in these mutated genes.  These new targeted drug therapies are extending the lives of some patients by several months, and in some cases, even years.

The key to making even greater strides (and ultimately saving lives) is funding, but funding for lung cancer research is impacted by the stigma that it is a “smoker’s disease.”  The truth is, anybody can get lung cancer—a fact underscored on Thursday by the tragic death from lung cancer of disco legend Donna Summers, who was a non-smoker like Keasha.  That’s why Team Draft is campaigning to change the face of lung cancer and to raise public awareness.  Thankfully, we are not alone.

Before leaving the West Coast, Team Draft visited the set of Dancing With The Stars to show our support for the show’s lung cancer awareness efforts.  This season, DWTS Pros Jonathan Roberts and Anna Trebunskaya performed a tribute dance in honor their friend and fellow ballroom dancer, Julia Ivleva, who is in the middle of her own battle with Stage IV Lung Cancer.  Jonathan, Anna, and Julia embody the dance, smile, and live philosophy, and Team Draft thanks DWTS for helping to shine a light on lung cancer.

Raising AWARENESS on the East Coast

 After completing the West Coast leg of the tour, Team Draft headed to back to the East Coast.  We concluded the tour on Saturday by taking part in two events to raise awareness and funding for cancer research in Keasha’s adopted hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Team Draft began the day at Charlotte’s Park Road Park where Chris addressed a crowd of lung cancer survivors, advocates, and supporters at The North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership’s inaugural Free to Breathe 5K and Rally. The event raised money for lung cancer research and advocacy.

After the Rally, Team Draft headed to Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers.  As a Panther’s linebacker, Chris used to come to the Stadium to tackle opposing quarterbacks.  On Saturday, Team Draft was there to tackle cancer by participating in the Keep Pounding 5K Stadium Run in support of the Panther’s Keep Pounding Fund and pediatric cancer research at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Team Draft’s national campaign to change the face of lung cancer would not be possible without support from people like you.  Your donation will help ensure that we can continue to raise public awareness of the true nature of the disease and increase the funding needed to tackle it.

To learn more about Team Draft, share your story, and respond and donate, visit  You can follow the national campaign to change the face of lung cancer on our blog at, and don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook at , and also

Local event helps raise awareness for lung cancer research

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Runners and walkers were out at Park Road Park to help raise money for lung cancer research during the Free to Breathe event Saturday morning.

Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Chris Draft lost his wife to lung cancer last December and Saturday he was one of many to take part in the event.

“My wife passed away this past December after battling and tackling lung cancer for a year. This disease is terrible, she did not smoke, she was in great shape but lung cancer is a beast,” Draft said. “I had chance to speak to everyone before the race and thank them for being here.”

The event provides an opportunity for lung cancer advocates, survivors and the community to come together to raise awareness and support in the movement to defeat lung cancer.

All proceeds will benefit the North Carolina Lung Cancer Partnership’s research, education and awareness programs.