DALLAS - As Florida State University head football coach Jimbo Fisher readies his national championship team for this weekend's season opener in Dallas, he's also teaming up with motocross champion Ricky Carmichael to raise awareness for Fanconi anemia (FA) - a rare and incurable blood disorder affecting Jimbo's younger son, Ethan, and an 11-year-old motocross enthusiast from Texas named Gage Klein.
Jimbo and his wife, Candi - who spearhead Kidz1stFund to raise awareness and treatment options for FA - will join Gage, and his family on the field at AT&T Stadium for a pre-game surprise on behalf of Carmichael.
"When the Fishers shared Gage's FA story with me earlier this year, how his beloved race jersey is boxed up and his dirt bike is now retired in the rafters of his dad's shop, I knew I needed to get personally involved," said Carmichael. "My connection with the Fishers goes beyond our love for the Seminoles and my hometown, Tallahassee. They are my friends and their Kidz1stFund is a foundation I truly believe in."
When the Fishers introduced Carmichael to Gage, he invited the entire family to the 2014 Dallas Supercross - where Gage enjoyed exclusive access onto the stadium's race track and met one-on-one with Carmichael and many other motocross idols for pictures and autographs on the winner's podium. Gage also sat alongside race trainers and crew in press box seats during the big races that evening.
Gage's appearance on the kick-off game field with Ethan in Dallas, as well as the FSU football team wearing "I Fight Fanconi" Kidz1stFund helmet decals during the season opener, are both to show continued support in the fight against FA.
"Candi and I are overwhelmed with gratitude at Ricky's incredible efforts to spread the word about Kidz1stFund and personally make a difference in the lives of those living with FA," said Coach Fisher.
Ethan and Gage are 2 out of 130,000 people annually affected with FA, leading to birth defects, bone marrow failure and cancer diagnoses. Nearly 100 percent of patients need very risky bone marrow transplants before adulthood, and even then, survivors have an average life expectancy of 29 years old.
"Time is not on our side, and every move we make brings us one step closer to finding a cure for FA," said Candi. "The amount of support we've received over the years is incredible, and it only continues to grow."
In just three years, Kidz1stFund has donated more than $2.1 million to the University of Minnesota Children's Hospital, the largest treatment center for FA patients (like Ethan and Gage) in the country.
To make a contribution or learn more about the fight against Fanconi anemia, visit www.Kidz1stFund.com.