Former New York Jets quarterback Boomer Esiason and his foundation continue to do amazing things. The month of May was Cystic Fibrosis (CF) awareness month and The Boomer Esiason Foundation now has a new teammate.
It is no secret that Boomer Esiason‘s son, Gunnar, has been battling CF for all twenty-five years of his life. I sat down with the former quarterback of the New York Jets on the set of WFAN’s “Boomer & Carton” morning show to learn more about CF, its treatments, its lasting effects on his family, the Boomer Esiason Foundation’s upcoming fundraisers to raise awareness and to hear about the benefits the TRU Heroes program would bring to CF patients. Boomer, speaking candidly, even talked about the psychological effects CF could have on the family unit.
On Monday, May 23, 2016, the partnership announced a first-of-its-kind initiative named the TRU Heroes Cystic Fibrosis Nursing Program. “An unprecedented educational empowerment program for the nursing community” (media press release), in its first year, a million dollar grant from Johnson & Johnson to the Boomer Esiason Foundation will train and certify 200-500 nurses specifically to Teach, Respect, and Understand CF patients.
Prior to this, in the nation, there has never been a specific CF certification for nurses. “Nurses that care for CF patients during protracted hospital stays serve as more than medical professionals – they play the role of confidant, friend and caretaker. Nurses and CF patients alike would benefit from advanced preparation about CF from their employers and academic institutions,” said Esiason, Founder of the BEF (media press release).
The partnership between J&J and the BEF was organic: It is no secret that Boomer Esiason has waged war against Cystic Fibrosis since 1993, the year his son Gunnar was diagnosed with the genetic disease. In that year, he and his wife established The Boomer Esiason Foundation aimed to “heighten awareness, education and quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis, while providing financial support to research aimed at finding a cure”.
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While lending a famous face to the cause, Esiason, former Cincinnati Bengals and Jets quarterback, has championed thousands of fundraisers to help in the fight against the crippling disease for over 25 years.
CF is a genetic disease that “causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.
In people with CF, a defective gene causes a thick, buildup of mucus in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.
In the lungs, the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infections, extensive lung damage and eventually, respiratory failure.
In the pancreas, the mucus prevents the release of digestive enzymes that allow the body to break down food and absorb vital nutrients (Cystic Fibrosis Foundation).
A 2010 article from the Boston Globe written by Joseph P. Kahn stated: “Not long ago, life expectancy for CF sufferers was less than 20 years. Thanks in no small part to the Esiasons, that number has nearly doubled over the past decade”. In its 23 years of existence, Boomer Esiason told me that he estimates $130,000,000 has been raised toward the training of nurses, research for a cure, and the care for CF patients.
“Together, BEF and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up to empower our tremendous nursing community with the educational tools and resources they need” (Media press release). Currently, TRU Heroes program will “publicly recognize those nurses already paving the way for better CF treatment and understanding, and will include national and local scholarships, CF seminars, educational grants and nursing achievement awards” (media press release).
For more information on how to get involved, fundraise, and be member of Team Boomer, visit The Boomer Esiason Foundation’s webpage.