Bringing light to Leukemia fight


Several thousand people gathered at Victory Field Saturday evening for "Light the Night." A walk benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.

The event gained momentum after Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed two weeks ago.

The news that Pagano has leukemia sent a shockwave through the NFL. It took no time for players,  and fans to turn their concern into action.

Chuckstrong is now more than a catch phrase, it's a movement. With Tee shirts, blood drives and fund raisers, the outpouring of support goes far beyond the coach.

"They're showing support for everyone who has been touched by a blood cancer," said Liz Hamilton of "Light the Night."  

That means the world to Joe Kieffer and his family.

Kevin Kieffer, Joe's father,  explained, "When Joe got diagnosed it was obviously a heartbreaking experience."

Last summer, the standout wrestler thought he had mono, instead it was leukemia. Joe says his heart sank when he heard Coach Pagano received similar news, "We're all really sad for him, and I know he is going to be fine but I think in the end it's going to be a really positive thing out of it."

"We know what he is going to go through it's going to be a long road but he is going to be okay," said Joe's mother, Jenny.

The family has gone through a great deal, but now the Roncali senior is in remission.

There's little doubt Coach Pagano is providing encouragement to others battling leukemia but the Kieffers say, that inspiration goes both ways.

Kevin said, "Maybe if the coach happens to see something like this, you know a little boy, 18 years old pulling for him that should inspire him also."

While Joes battle is far from over, he says he's sending prayers and positive thoughts to the coach in his greatest time of need, "I just want him to stay strong and keep fighting and I want him to know that everything is going to be okay."

Joe says he's going to his first colts game next Sunday against the Browns.

That is the same day Chuckstrong bracelets will be handed out to fans wanting to show support for the coach and others fighting cancer.