Coach Rivera and wife continue fight against disease that took h - | WBTV Charlotte

Coach Rivera and wife continue fight against disease that took his brother Mickey

(Photo courtesy PANCAN Charlotte) (Photo courtesy PANCAN Charlotte)
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Carolina Panthers Head Coach and two-time NFL Coach of the Year Ron Rivera and his wife, Stephanie, continue their mission to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, the disease that took Coach Rivera’s brother Mickey in 2015.

Mickey Rivera was only 56 years old.

Sunday, the Riveras held their second annual Pancreatic Cancer Action Network charity dinner at Bonterra’s in Charlotte. The event is an intimate evening with guests, and a chance to wrap up the 2016 fundraising efforts.

“My brother Mickey was my first and best teammate,” Coach Rivera said. “Partnering with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network allows me to not only honor my brother, but to take action against this deadly disease. Pancreatic cancer kills more people than breast cancer, but without the support of people willing to take action, we will continue to lose our loved ones and biggest champions.”

Mark Weber, is Charlotte’s Media Chair. He explained why the Riveras chose Bonterra’s.

“The owner of Bonterra, John "JD" Duncan, has a philosophy of "giving back" to the community and opens up the restaurant on select Sundays throughout the year to host functions like the one we did last night. JD hosted the first fundraising dinner last year following PurpleStride Charlotte and it was such a huge success that Coach Rivera and Stephanie desired to repeat again this year,” Weber told me.

I was honored to sit with Coach Rivera and Stephanie. He gave a heartfelt "thank you" to everyone who was involved in raising awareness about pancreatic cancer over the last 12 months. He told us that he not only wants to increase the survival rate of pancreatic cancer, he wants to see the disease eliminated!

“November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month, and the dinner helped us to create awareness with new supporters who learned about us thanks to Bonterra's efforts in marketing the event,” Weber said.

2016 has been a record-setting fundraising year for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s Charlotte Affiliate. The PurpleStride Charlotte 5K is the organizations signature fundraising event and brought in close to $370,000.00 this year. I was honored to be a part of the event, and so pleased when Coach Rivera was willing to share the story of his brother Mickey with viewers.

“Those donated dollars support our goal to double pancreatic cancer survival by 2020. An infusion of funds will allow us to significantly increase our investment in research, fueling out efforts to develop early detection tools and better treatment options for patients,” Weber told me.

Pancreatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Since the local affiliate was founded five years ago, the five-year survival has risen by several percentage points to 8 percent. But as everyone touched by the disease will tell you, it’s still unacceptably low.

PANCAN Charlotte is fueled by a passionate group of volunteers who have has personal loss of a loved one to this deadly disease. They invite you to be a part of their work. 

Weber suggested the following ways for you to get involved in their efforts.

Like their Facebook page at @panCAN.charlotte. They are also on Twitter at @pancanCharlotte. You can also attend a local meeting to get to know the volunteers.

“We're fighting a deadly cancer but we have fun to generate hope along the way,” Weber said.

Also consider hosting a Purple Party or donate directly to their cause.

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