It is the Indianapolis Colts’ rallying cry this season. This was supposed to be a season focused strictly on football. Chuck Pagano was hired this past off-season by the Colts to help revitalize the franchise needing something positive after a dismal 2011 season and the release of Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. Many considered the season a rebuilding year for the first-time head coach. No one would have ever expected things to play out the way they have.
Chuck was diagnosed with leukemia in September of this year. It was a shock to the coach, his family, and the Colts organization. Instead of worrying about gameplans and NFL opponents, the focus was immediately on Chuck’s battle for his life. He stepped away from the team, leaving his players and coaches in the hands of assistant Bruce Arians. It was now up to him and his doctors to compete for his life.
Chuck was hospitalized from September 26 to October 21 for his first round of intense chemotherapy and treatment. As their passionate head coach competed for his life in the hospital, the Colts team competed on the field for him. Surprising the entire NFL world, the young Colts are overachieving with their 6-3 record over halfway through the season. Everyone considered them to finish fourth in their division again and no one outside of Indianapolis gave them a chance for a playoff berth. Now they are in the drivers’ seat for a wild-card berth in a season dedicated to their fearless leader, Chuck.
In fact, the entire city of Indianapolis is representing Chuck and the ongoing “CHUCKSTRONG” campaign – a play off of the famous Lance Armstrong-led foundation LiveStrong. Players have shaved their heads in support of Chuck. Reggie Wayne risked NFL fines by wearing orange (the color to represent leukemia awareness) last month instead of the league-issued pink for breast cancer. Colts fans who have been affected by leukemia are joining in and shaving their heads. Even Megan M, a Colts cheerleader, has agreed to shave her head for leukemia awareness if the Colts mascot “Blue” could raise $10,000 for leukemia research.
Chuck’s battle for his life has inspired a team and a city to join together in the fight against the disease. His gritty determination to win is what will ultimately lead him out of these dark times and into good times again. No matter how bad he felt, Chuck is determined to show strength. He credits his brother John and what John told him in the hospital for that.
Anyone who meets Chuck can agree with his brother’s comment that Chuck inspires every day. His decision to compete for his life – and the determination he shows – is one that will inspire anyone watching. There’s no better way to explain Chuck and what he brings to the city of Indianapolis and the Colts franchise better than the video below, delivered to the team after the first game he got to attend after his diagnosis.
“I’ve got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it. It’s hard to beat. It’s hard to beat. My vision that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their wedding, and hoist that Lombardi several times. We’re going to hoist that baby several times. I AM dancing at two more weddings and we are hoisting that trophy.”
Go kick cancer’s ass Chuck.
In support of Chuck Pagano’s battle against leukemia, Compete Every Day will donate 10% of Sunday’s sales to the #CHUCKSTRONG program.