From the moment Rams quarterback Sam Bradford accepted the opportunity to serve as the honorary chair for this year’s Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, he’d been told just how huge and important the event is.
Not that Bradford didn’t believe what he was hearing but, by his own admission, he didn’t quite grasp the magnitude of it all.
On Saturday morning in downtown St. Louis, seeing was believing for Bradford as he fulfilled his role as honorary chair for more than 50,000 cancer survivors, their friends and family and everyone who came out in support of the Komen mission to find a cure for breast cancer.
“It means a lot,” Bradford said. “Everyone told me to wait until race day to find out what it’s all about and I thought I knew how important this was but to get up there on stage today and see so many survivors and so many supporters come out early on Saturday morning and show their support, it just says so much about breast cancer and how much it affects people, how much it takes to fight. It’s just really special to be a part of.”
As honorary chair, Bradford, who was joined at the event by parents Kent and Martha, spent the morning meeting survivors, posing for pictures and signing autographs.
Dede Hoffman, the board chair of the St. Louis affiliate of the Komen Foundation, was impressed with Bradford’s leadership.
“I’m just speechless,” Hoffman said. “Sam has been great. He’s been good for our community; he’s good for Race for the Cure and a real asset for us.”
Following the survivors procession, Bradford addressed the group and offered words of encouragement as well as thanks for their inspirational stories.
“I thought I knew how big of an event this was in St. Louis but I truly found out today just how big it was,” Bradford said. “I’m really glad I got involved. It truly is an honor to be the chair of this event.
“I haven’t had a personal connection to breast cancer. My mom has friends that have had it, I think everyone knows or has someone in their life who has been affected by some kind of cancer. I think the fact that it’s so widespread is really what drew me to it.”
After his quick speech, Bradford joined the Rams rookie class, cheerleaders and Rampage to hand out roses to the survivors as they crossed the finish line. The Rams staff, family and friends, also known as Team Georgia in memory of late team owner Georgia Frontiere, joined forces with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and News Channel 5 to form a team of more than 3,300 runners and walkers, a team that raised more than $95,000 for the cause.
Bradford’s presence was appreciated by everyone involved including St. Louis mayor Francis Slay, who is in his 12th year as mayor with the event going on.
In Slay’s first year, Rams quarterback Kurt Warner was the honorary co-chair. Since, Rams running back
The involvement of Rams players as honorary chairs as well as the continued involvement of the organization as a whole has stood out to Slay.
“The race and the whole event has grown dramatically over the years and it’s good to see that the Rams and their players have really been a big part of this and have been a big help to make this as successful as it’s been,” Slay said. “We really appreciate it.
“Certainly everybody knows Sam Bradford and really respects him as an athlete. To see him come out here and show this kind of support for the community really provides a boost for the effort and I think also, we love him as an athlete, but it really shows he has a strong human side. He and the Rams organization are just a great asset to this community all the way around.”
Rookies (from left)
The Rams’ 10 drafted rookies, who were present at the finish line to congratulate the survivors, were also happy to be part of the Race for the Cure as they wrapped up the team's Rookie Week.
“It has been a long week but this is one of the best things we’ve done coming out here for a great cause,” Zuerlein said. “I think all the guys are excited to be here.”
Race for the Cure is annually one of the biggest charitable events in St. Louis and the St. Louis version of the event is generally one of the biggest of its kind in the country.
“This is great with all of the St. Louisans coming out to support those who are survivors and provide inspiration and hope for the future for others who will be afflicted with that terrible disease breast cancer, to remember those who lost the battle and to continue the fight,” Slay said. “You see almost 50,000 people out here year in and year out coming together for a great cause, to help their fellow St. Louisans.”
Of all the money raised, 75 percent stays in St. Louis for local breast cancer treatment, research, outreach and screening, particularly for underserved communities.
Georgia Frontiere, the Rams late owner who passed away from breast cancer in 2008, was instrumental in the team's support of Komen. Since her passing, the Rams have increased their support in part as a tribute to her. In addition to the players, cheerleaders, Rampage and Team Georgia, the Rams sponsored a block and hired a local favorite, Charles Glenn, to provide musical entertainment for the participants as they ran and walked by 20th and Market.
“This is a task we could not do without organizations like the Rams and many of our city community partners,” Hoffman said. “The Rams have been wonderful from loaning us facilities to loaning us people. It’s been fabulous. We are a sports town and it means a lot to us.”