Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher and his wife, Candi, teamed up with two legendary college football coaches on Sunday evening for a private fundraiser at Fleming's Steakhouse in Birmingham, Ala., benefitting Kidz1stFund to raise funds for Fanconi anemia research, the rare disease that affects their son, Ethan.
"Candi and I are very thankful to the Bowdens and Sabans for joining us in our fight against Fanconi anemia," Fisher said. "Their support means a lot to our family. Coach Bowden and Coach Saban have both been very influential not only in my coaching career but in my life. We thank them and all of the supporters in Birmingham who turned out for the event."
The Fishers were joined by former FSU coach Bobby Bowden, his wife, Ann, and current Alabama coach Nick Saban and his wife, Terry. Bowden, Fisher and Saban have been apart of multiple national championship winning teams, combining to possess seven championship rings.
Sunday night's event was attended by almost 225 generous Birmingham supporters who were moved by the Fishers' emotional story of their battle to help their son, inspired by Bowden's wise words of wisdom and energized by Saban's message of hope. Through the combined efforts of these celebrated coaches, the Fishers' Kidz1stFund received close to $100,000 in donations for research.
"With Candi being from the state of Alabama as well as my playing days at Samford, in particular, the city of Birmingham has become a second home to us. We thank them for embracing our family and supporting the fight against FA."
During the live auction portion of the event, the Sabans were so motivated that Terry surprised the audience by offering two seats in her football suite for any home Alabama game. The Birmingham crowd responded enthusiastically with several thousand dollars in bids.
"We are happy to support Jimbo and Candi at their fundraiser for Kidz1stFund," Terry Saban said.
"This is obviously something that has directly affected their family as well as many others and we are happy to do our part to help in the battle against and, hopefully, finding a cure for FA," Coach Saban added.
Led by Candi Fisher, Kidz1stFund raises awareness and research dollars for the life threatening and incurable genetic blood disorder called Fanconi anemia, or FA. FA was diagnosed in the Fishers' younger son, Ethan, in the spring of 2011 after Coach Fisher's first season as head coach at Florida State. The incidence rate, or the likelihood of a child being born with FA, is about 1 in 131,000 in the U.S. and the median age of survival is 29 years.
Fanconi anemia patients do not repair their DNA well which leads to bone marrow failure. Since the Fisher's elder son Trey is not a match, Ethan's transplanted bone marrow will come from an unrelated donor. Currently, an unrelated bone marrow transplant for an FA patient has an 80% survival rate. FA patients are also 300,000 times more likely to get cancer in their early years than those without FA.
Kidz1stFund's goal is to raise $500,000 by December of each year for the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. To date, the fund has donated over $1 million dollars to the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Program, which treats more Fanconi anemia patients needing blood and marrow transplantation than all other hospitals in the country combined. With the research dollars from Kidz1stFund, researchers at the University of Minnesota are working to help FA patients survive and thrive after bone marrow transplants.
Time is not on Ethan Fisher and those with FA's side. With help from the Sabans and the Bowdens, Kidz1stFund is able to reach a new audience, educating others about FA as well as raising much needed research dollars to find a cure.