HOUSTON – Texans fans, disappointed in a four-game losing streak by their football team, pledged their ongoing support to the struggling players Monday night and their support to help tackle an even bigger foe: Cancer.
Fans paid $75 apiece to mingle with players like Brian Cushing, Arian Foster, Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson at the Houston Texans Grille in west Houston.
Fans got a chance to talk football with their favorite players, but also helped raise money for the Kareem Jackson Foundation and the Johnathan Joseph Foundation. Joseph’s father is battling lung cancer, while Kareem Jackson’s mother is a breast cancer survivor.
Money raised at the event through the players’ foundations goes to help the American Lung Association and the Sister’s Network, Inc. So as the players and fans talked about their struggles this season they also recognized the obvious juxtaposition – their hope for a better season pales in comparison to the hope for a better life for those struggling with cancer.
“I think there is still hope,” said David Nagy, the self-proclaimed “Endzone King” who travels to every game with a massive Texans crown on his head.
“A little shaky,” added fan Juan Rincones of the Texans so far this season. “All we need is a good turnaround and we win our division, we’re still in the playoffs.”
“I would say that is disgusting and terrible,” said fan Chris Turk of the fans who cheered when quarterback Matt Schaub was injured in the game against the St. Louis Rams.
“Right now for us we just got to continue to be positive,” said Texans defensive back Kareem Jackson. “Continue to work as a team,” he said of the hope for the future.
But this event at the Texans Grill, the inaugural “Tailgating for a Cure” was also about 5-year-old Kirsten Andrews. Diagnosed first with kidney cancer she was in remission when she was diagnosed with stage 4 double lung cancer.
Doctors have given her a 30 percent chance of survival. But on Monday night she stood on a small stage wearing Arian Foster’s jersey and standing next to him, Cushing, Jackson and Joseph as they showered her with gifts and celebrated her fifth birthday. She represented the cancer patients the players hope to help with their charitable foundations.
“I just think this is a wonderful opportunity not just for Kirsten but for children all around the world,” said Kirsten’s mother Marla Jones.
Kareem Jackson’s mother Rosalyn also attended the event. She said this season she’s offering her son and his team the same advice given to her in her cancer fight.
“To keep their heads up, work hard and it will get better,” she said. “It has to get better.”
“Cancer is so big it affects lives and a human life is a lot bigger than a game of football,” said Joseph.
So when the self proclaimed Endzone King told us “it’s a tough road ahead but there’s still hope,” he offered the statement for the Houston Texans…and for a little 5-year-old girl.
To learn more:
Johnathan Joseph Foundaton
Kareem Jackson Foundation
American Lung Association.