I spied Baltimore Ravens Quarterback Joe Flacco at the 2014 Cystic Fibrosis Volunteer Leadership Conference in Bethesda. Do you know Flacco?
Here’s a primer:
First rookie QB in NFL history to win two playoff games, leading the Ravens to their first AFC Championship game since 2000
Named the 2008 Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year (NFL.com fan vote)
Ravens’ all-time leading passer in yards, TD passes, completions and attempts
Super Bowl XLVII Champion & MVP
Confession: I did not know Flacco when his presence was announced. That’s because I’m the most pathetic sports fan on earth. That didn’t stop me from going into stealth mode, along with my pal, Megan, who sat with me at the table. We dove under the table, slipped into our evening Ninja outfits, flipped on our shameless modes and synchronized Swatches.
With Megan as my wing Ninja, I procured contact info and shook on a promise for a future blog interview.
I wanted to know about his presence at the conference. Why has curing cystic fibrosis become a cause for him? He shed more light in an e-mail interview with me this month. Here it is! Thanks again, Joe Flacco!
Q: Your niece, Chelsea, has cystic fibrosis. Is Chelsea your brother or sister’s daughter? How old is she? What type of CF does she have? Eli has common mutations called the DeltaF508
A: My niece Chelsea…is the daughter of my sister in law Lisa. Lisa is my wife’s older sister. Chelsea is 3 years old and I’m not sure what type she actually has.
Q: How old was Chelsea when you and her parents found out she had CF?
A: We all found out she had it when she was just a newborn.
Q: What was your reaction to the news? (I had no idea what CF was, myself).
A: I think my first reaction was being a little scared for everyone, I didn’t really know what it was.
Q: Had anyone else in your family had CF, or was it a total shock?
A: The fact that Chelsea was diagnosed with CF was a total shock. My wife has since been tested and isn’t even a carrier. It’s just one of those things that you would never even think of.
Q: Has your understanding of the disease changed over time? Why?
A: My understanding of the disease has grown into one of hope. It seems to be a disease that effects such a small amount of people that there isn’t that much that goes into finding out about it. I feel like people have done so much with so little on the road to finding a cure.
Q: When did you decide to get involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation? Why?
A: I got involved when the Baltimore/Annapolis chapter [of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation] had found out about my niece and asked if I would help out. I thought it was a good idea because the people seemed so optimistic about the future of this disease. The fact that my niece has the disease is also the obvious reason. It’s not often something like this is so closely related to you, but it is, and I wanted to help in some way.
People are sometimes surprised that those with CF can live a normal, happy lives, by and large, though they are faced with additional health challenges. It’s not the disease it once was, though we still have a long way to go.
Joe also relayed that Chelsea loves attending dance class. She has two siblings: Brianna, 5, and Paul, 1, who do not have cystic fibrosis.
His involvement in helping raise awareness is pretty new to the city of Baltimore. I have to bet that the whole city could get behind this cause with Flacco helping the CF Foundation lead the charge.
Thanks, sir, for the interview, and for everything you’ve done so far.
Together, we will cure CF!
And that concludes my month of CF Awareness blog posts. I tried to do a blog a day in May. Almost made it! I’ve got more to say and more science to share. Somehow, I never got to it! That’s OK. We plan on sticking around! Thanks for reading!