Susie Spanos, wife of Los Angeles Chargers controlling owner and chairman of the board, Dean Spanos, and a breast cancer survivor, was joined by the Chargers' rookie class and hundreds of cancer patients, survivors and caregivers Tuesday at Dignity Health Sports Park. The volunteers donated 100 minutes of their day raising awareness around cancer screenings and risk reduction.
"It's a lot of fun to be out here," kicker Chase McLaughlin said. "(It's cool to see) these families, cancer patients and people who have defeated cancer and see their spirits-- just how happy they are."
The Chargers, with the help of more than 250 volunteers, assembled care kits, donated blood and facilitated educational experiences aimed at cancer prevention as Spanos and the Chargers have been at the forefront of raising awareness for cancer.
"She sees the vision," said Sharon Byers, chief development marketing and communications officer of the American Cancer Society. "(Susie and the Chargers) understand that we have to celebrate life, but we also have to educate people all around prevention…in our mind she's a rockstar."
Byers expressed her gratitude for the NFL providing massages, manicures, and hairstylists to pamper cancer patients and survivors, also noting the monumental impact the NFL has had on nationwide cancer prevention.
"We can't do what we do every day without partners like the Chargers and the NFL," Byers said. "The NFL family has helped us raise almost 20 million dollars — all goes to underserved communities executed through change grants."
These grants have directly helped some in attendance Tuesday, including Charter Oak High School football coach Lou Farrar, who was diagnosed with leukemia over the summer. "Big Lou," along with his entire varsity football squad, were in attendance to support Crucial Catch and cancer awareness.
"Since our coach was diagnosed with leukemia, we came down here to come support," Charter Oak football player Pierce Babineaux said. "Especially with the Crucial Catch initiative, we just wanted to come out and help as much as we could."
The Charter Oak Chargers players were happy to support Crucial Catch, and some Los Angeles Chargers rookies even joined them for a game of cornhole, an experience Babineaux and his teammates say they will never forget.
The Chargers, NFL, and American Cancer Society invited fans and volunteers to join the fight against cancer by taking part in this huddle to positively impact those affected by cancer and learn about reducing risks while volunteering alongside Bolts players and the Charger Girls.
"Seeing all these people out here smiling, having a good time in this amazing L.A. sun is really great to see and really puts things into perspective," McLaughlin said. "It's hard to even put into words. Just waking up every day and knowing that when you wake up you have to fight for your life."
Big Lou has fought hard against leukemia ever since he was diagnosed, and to celebrate his strength and resilience, he was presented with two tickets to Super Bowl LIV from Spanos and the NFL.
But that wasn't the only event the Chargers and Spanos held on Tuesday. Earlier in the day at the team facility, they held an on-field yoga class for breast cancer survivors hosted by Hoag. Spanos and the survivors were joined by Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson, and current Chargers like Denzel Perryman and Travis Benjamin.
Both events were held in conjunction with the NFL's "Huddle for 100" initiative. In honor of the league's 100th season, the NFL launched a goal to inspire 1 million people to each give 100 minutes of their time to a cause of their choice. To accomplish this goal, the NFL will be hosting a series of "National Huddles", large scale volunteer-focused events focused on a specific cause, all season long. And due to the Chargers' extensive involvement with cancer prevention programs and charities, the organization chose to center their national huddle around Crucial Catch and the fight against cancer.
Additionally, Spanos announced that the Chargers and all of their volunteers have donated 30 million minutes to Huddle for 100.