University of Minnesota renames its Fanconi anemia treatment and research program in recognition of Kidz1stFund support

The University of Minnesota’s world-renowned treatment and research program for the rare genetic disease Fanconi anemia (FA) will become the Kidz1stFund Comprehensive Fanconi Anemia Center. The new name honors Kidz1stFund, which has donated more than $5.5 million for FA research at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and is committed to continue raising research dollars through community-based initiatives.

The joint effort is aimed at advancing the work of the University’s FA research investigators, launching an international initiative to develop novel concepts for treating patients throughout the world, and growing the funding base for FA research.

Affecting about 1 in 131,000 births each year, FA is a rare genetic condition in which the body’s normal mechanism to repair damaged cells doesn’t work properly. This can cause a variety of health issues, including abnormalities of the arms and hands, kidney problems, heart defects, hearing loss, and bone marrow failure. People with FA also have a greatly elevated chance of developing certain types of cancer.

With the support of Kidz1stFund, the University of Minnesota is boosting the success of blood and marrow transplants for people with FA. The U of M is a leader in using blood and marrow transplants for treating many life-threatening conditions. Its physicians and scientists are developing safer, more effective treatments for FA—as well as identifying new ways to prevent and treat cancers that are particularly common in FA patients and also affect millions of others.

Kidz1stFund was founded in 2011 by Jimbo Fisher and Candi Fisher when their youngest son, Ethan, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia. “Our hope when we created Kidz1stFund was to raise money to make a difference for Ethan and all patients with FA,” said Candi Fisher. “We are so humbled by the response we’ve received, and through the generosity of many donors, the U of M has made tremendous strides in finding better treatments for FA, but our ultimate goal is a cure, and we will not stop until that dream becomes a reality.”

“Time is never on our side for children with FA,” said Margaret MacMillan, M.D., University of Minnesota pediatrics professor and director of the Kidz1stFund Comprehensive Fanconi Anemia Center. “With the support of Kidz1stFund, we are getting research done faster. Together, we are making a difference and changing the practice of medicine—not only for people with FA, but those with other life-threatening conditions that aren’t so rare.”

To learn more about Kidz1stFund or to make a tax-deductible gift that will fund critical research, please visit

Q&A: Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher talks Kidz1stFund, Alabama game, recruiting in Georgia

Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Phil W. Hudson recently spoke to Florida State football head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Heading into his eighth season as head coach of Florida State, Fisher has won five bowl games, including the 2013 National Championship and two Orange Bowl titles. He has the highest winning percentage in ACC history (.821) and his 78 total wins are the most by a Power Five coach through their first seven seasons in modern history. Fisher leads all active coaches in wins per season (11.1) and guided the Seminoles to three consecutive ACC Championships from 2012-2014, winning a school- and ACC-record 29 straight games in the process.

The Clarksburg, W.V.-native succeeded iconic head Bobby Bowden and continues to develop NFL players at a higher rate than any head coach in the country. Since taking over in 2010, 38 of Fisher’s protégés have been selected by NFL teams and 44 FSU players were on NFL rosters in 2016, giving Florida State the most alumni in the league.

Since becoming head coach in 2010, Fisher has been very active in several efforts to raise funds and awareness for children with diseases, including his foundation, Kidz1stFund. Kidz1stFund was founded in 2011 and is a national fund to raise awareness and research funds to find a cure for Fanconi anemia, a rare blood disease that affects many, including Fisher’s youngest son Ethan. Kidz1stFund has already donated more than $4.5 million to FA research at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, the largest FA treatment center in the country. Click here to learn more about Kidz1stFund.

Fisher and his Seminoles will be in Atlanta to face the Alabama Crimson Tide at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sept. 2.

Atlanta Business Chronicle: Hey Coach Fisher, how are doing?

Jimbo Fisher: Good. How are you doing?

ABC: Well, you sound just like you do at all your press conferences so I guess it really is you.

JF:(Laughs) Yep. It is me.

ABC: I’m actually on the way to Mercedes-Benz Stadium right now. Florida State is playing Alabama in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game. Have you seen the stadium yet and how are you preparing your team for it?

JF: No, we haven’t been to the stadium yet. Usually, we don’t take our team on Friday to the opposing team’s stadium but we’re going to go to Mercedes-Benz Stadium because I want them to get past a little bit of the shock and awe of the new stadium and I want them to field some punts and kicks and things in those lights to get used to it. We haven’t done that yet but everything I’ve read and all the pictures [I’ve seen], it looks like an unbelievable place. How nice these new stadiums are the new modernization of where we are going too but the new stadium looks beautiful.

ABC: Pay for play is a big topic in college athletics today. Do you think the student-athlete model will become a thing of the past?

JF: You’re given the stipend now. I think eventually as the money and income grows, I think they are entitled to something because there’s a quality of life and a burden of life that goes with this that is very tough. The stipend is becoming there and all the schools in the Power 5 conferences have it now so I think it will continue to grow.

ABC: Florida, California and Texas are fertile grounds for recruiting. How do you view Georgia as a state for high school football talent?

JF: Extremely fertile. Just as fertile as those three states. The other states have a little larger of a larger population of people but the number of players that come out of Georgia is phenomenal. Another thing is the quality of high school coaching in Georgia is phenomenal. They put a lot of money into their programs and football is very important. Georgia is great for high school football and it’s a huge recruiting area for us because we are so close. I think Georgia is right there with the other three.

ABC: Your son Ethan fights Fanconi anemia and that fight is what led you to founding Kidz1stFund. I have a lot of opportunities to interview people of your stature and I think the main purpose of these non-profits is to raise money to fund research to assist with finding a cure. I’m curious to know where you see the value in interviews and speaking engagements. How does raising awareness quantify into funding research or is that not your goal with things that aren’t fundraisers?

JF: They both are because you don’t know who you touch that has that magic formula and grows up to solve the mystery of Fanconi anemia. You don’t ever know who that is going to be so the more awareness there is around it, the better the chances are to beat it and conquer it.

Funding is extremely important. They money at every speaking engagement never goes to me. I give every time of that plus our own donations to Kidz1stFund. More importantly, it was started because of my son Ethan because it hit us but as a family we said, ‘What about the other families that don’t have the platform we have?’ It’s our responsibility with the platform we have to be able to get it out there to create hope for other kids. When we found out and looked at the diagnosis, we felt like we had no hope. As we got into it further and began making tremendous strides with it, we decided we wanted to give everyone hope because a life isn’t worth living if your family doesn’t have hope.

ABC: What message about Kidz1stFund do you have for Atlanta’s business community?

JF: I know everybody has a cause and a reason for doing things but the thing about Fanconi anemia is it reaches out into so many other avenues like leukemia, breast cancer and other things. This disease is a very fast-moving disease as far as what it bridges into. This is one of the great causes for an orphan disease because we’re diagnosing it more and more so hopefully it won’t be an orphan disease in the future because we are much more aware of it. Any dollar, any research, any funding and anything you can do is providing hope for families that are less fortunate than we are. Our goal is to beat it so no child ever has to have anything that is ever wrong with them so they can live a long-healthy life. We appreciate any kind of help, donation or notoriety that you can bring.

ABC: What do you want your legacy to be?

JF: I’ve never coached for a legacy. I don’t ever think of a legacy in that regard. I believe in what I do and that’s trying to do what is right for the kids and the organization; what we are trying to accomplish; and make the right decisions. I’ve never ever thought of a legacy. It’s not that you don’t care because you want people to say, ‘He was an honest guy that gave me a fair chance and did the right thing.’ At the same time, I’ve never thought of that and people have asked me that before but I don’t really have an answer because [my legacy] will be [determined] by my actions rather than I want it to be. I just have to make good.

Florida State, Minnesota Vikings and Fanconi Anemia

Xavier Rhodes tweetMinnesota Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes and Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher go way back — all the way back to 2009, when Fisher was trying to convince Rhodes to play for the Seminoles. We got the two men to not only look back on their time together in Tallahassee, but also to discuss something deeply personal to both: their love and support for Fisher’s son, Ethan.

Jimbo Fisher
The first time I saw Xavier Rhodes play football was back in 2009 at a Florida State football camp for high schoolers. He was an 18-year-old wide receiver — a wide-eyed, fiery kid who didn’t have an ounce of doubt about himself. He didn’t care how many stars the other recruits had or who was ranked ahead of him. He played with aggression. He was out there flying around the field, catching passes and weaving through the defense … and I had one thought: I’m gonna turn this guy into a corner.

Xavier Rhodes
Aw, Coach, no lie, I had always dreamt about playing wide receiver. That was my thing. I just wanted to catch touchdowns. So when you told me you wanted to make me a corner, I was mad as a dog.

Mad? You weren’t just mad, you wanted to shoot me! Hahaha. I remember during spring practice before your first full season, I went up to you and said, “Look, try playing corner for three months. If it doesn’t work, I’ll move you back. I promise. But you gotta give this a try, because you can be something special.” I knew that you had the speed and size to be a huge threat in the secondary. But, at first you weren’t having it.

About 10 minutes later, you crept back over to me with those big ol’ puppy eyes and said, “Aw, Coach, I’m sorry.”

I looked at you with a smile and said, “I know, buddy. Now get back out there and do your thing.”

Ha! I remember that. I’m glad that you moved me to corner and unleashed my ball-tracking skills, ’cause things have seemed to have worked out.

They have. And you put the work in to make it happen. You earned it.

Yeah. We had some good times in Tallahassee, too. An ACC championship, a few bowl wins — we had a lot of success, and you’ve kept it going.


That’s why I think foregoing my senior year to enter the 2013 NFL draft was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. It was so difficult to leave Florida State. You, the other coaches and the rest of the guys were like family — still are. And that’s what I think about when I think about Florida State.


I remember how your boys, Trey and Ethan, used to always be around the program — out at practice, always hanging around the team — and how that set the tone for a family atmosphere. The rest of the players and I saw how you were with your kids, and it rubbed off on us. When you have your boys running around practice and whatnot … it just feels like family.

How are Trey and Ethan, anyway? How old are they now?

Well, Trey is 15, and Ethan is—

Fifteen! My goodness. I remember when he was — how old was he when I first got there, eight or so? — running all over the sideline during practice, smacking guys on their helmets, screaming, hootin’ and hollerin’ like he was one of us. And, boy, the kid had energy. You had to have a cup of coffee to keep up with him. Trey would just talk, talk, talk. And he’d ask the darndest questions, too.

Ahhh, you hit the nail on the head with that one. Trey’s very inquisitive. The kid’s 15 going on 30 … when you talk to him, it’s like talking to an adult.

And Ethan’s what now … 11?

Yeah, and talk about a kid with energy….

Oh, I know. I remember one time on the bus before a game, Ethan was sitting right next to me just going 100 miles per hour. He was always talking and bouncing around. And he was only like five years old at the time, too.

That sounds like him.

But when I think about Florida State — and I think about family — one of the first things that comes to mind is a meeting before spring practice in 2011. The whole team had gathered in the auditorium, and when you came in, we were all expecting to hear one of your patented Coach Fisher talks. We expected to talk some football, talk about life, talk about what our goals were for the spring — to get better every day and prepare to compete for a national championship. We expected to be motivated and excited.

Instead, you told us about Ethan.

I don’t think anybody on the team knew what Fanconi anemia was. We all looked at each other, like, “What? What is this? How bad is it?” I mean, you were our coach — our fearless leader — and we were a bunch of warriors. And when we saw you standing up there in front of the team, and we saw you trying to hold back your emotions … it really hit us hard. Some guys put their heads in their hands and prayed. Some guys just sat there in disbelief, shocked and confused. Some guys cried. All the things you and your family probably did when you found out yourselves.

That’s exactly how we felt. It was a wide range of emotions. I had just finished my first regular season as head coach when Ethan started having flu-like symptoms. The first thought was that he had just that: the flu. Kids get sick. They get the flu. So you don’t think much of it other than, These things happen. We’ll take him to the doctor and everything will be fine.

Well, Ethan and his mom, Candi, were in Alabama visiting her family at the time, so instead of taking him to our regular doctor, she took Ethan to an urgent-care clinic — which turned out to be a blessing. Because the clinic didn’t have any information on Ethan’s medical history they conducted a complete blood count, which tested, among other things, his platelet count. The results came back and his platelet levels were pretty low — which, as the doctor noted, could have been a result of the flu. But just to be sure, they suggested that Ethan get tested a month later.

Right after we won the 2010 Peach Bowl against South Carolina, I went to the doctor with Ethan for another test at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. And again, his platelet levels were low.

I’ll never forget when I found out about his condition. It was March 2011. Ethan and I were at a pond close to our home shooting his favorite BB gun. Suddenly, we heard a car roaring down the road. It was Ethan’s mother. She was screaming my name and honking the horn, trying to get our attention. I walked over to her and saw the look in her eyes. It was bad news. That’s when I knew she had gotten the call we had been waiting for — the call from the doctor who told us that Ethan had Fanconi anemia.

A day or so later, we went to the doctor to learn as much as we could about the disease. Honestly, it was terrifying. Fanconi anemia is a disorder that affects the bone marrow and is caused by an abnormal gene that damages cells, which keeps them from repairing damaged DNA. One in 131,000 people in the U.S. have Fanconi anemia, and at the time Ethan was diagnosed, the average life expectancy for those with the disease was only 23 years of age. As a parent hearing that … my goodness, a little part of me just crumbled. It’s just some sort of nightmare that you can’t wake up from. One of the most frustrating parts for me and Candi was that we found out the disease is passed down genetically, meaning both Candi and I carry one of the known FA genes [there are more than a dozen]. In a way, we felt that it was our fault that Ethan was sick and that he had to suffer so much.

It’s hard to keep focused when the doctor was rattling off this information … my mind was just swirling. But the bad news kept coming. We continued to find out that Fanconi anemia can lead to increased risk for leukemia and other cancers.

And after hearing all this terrible information, you realize something without the doctor even having to tell you: There’s no cure for this disease. And that’s perhaps the most heartbreaking part of it all.

Coach, I’m so sorry. I know you love your kids more than anything. To find out that this was going to be Ethan’s reality must have flipped your world upside down.

Well, it did, Xay. I mean, honestly, Candi and I were shocked. We found out that Ethan’s platelet count was going to drop to the point that he’ll one day need a bone marrow transplant. So, you know, we started questioning, “Why us?” and, “Why now?” There were times when I’d cry. Not because of what Ethan was going through. He’s a tough kid. Strong. Resilient.

I’d cry because I’d see him lying on a table with all these wires strewn across his body as he awoke from his anesthesia … because I’d hear him ask questions about why this was happening….

Because I felt like I couldn’t help him.

I can’t even imagine what that must have been like….

And I hope you never have to. It’s something I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. It’s a helpless feeling. When you become a father, your main purpose in life becomes to protect your children and to care for them — allow them to thrive. And I felt like I couldn’t do that.

In the beginning, I didn’t know what caring for Ethan would require, or if I would be able to focus on my job knowing what Ethan was battling at home. It weighed on me pretty heavily — more than anything I had ever faced in my life — and all I wanted to do was be there for Ethan. Football seemed inconsequential. It even crossed my mind that … maybe … I should stop coaching.

Man … I didn’t know that.

Yeah, it was a difficult time. But the support from everybody at Florida State was incredible, and it gave me the inspiration to fight. Initially, it was hard to make Ethan’s condition public. When things like this happen, it’s natural to want to keep it private. But because of my position, stories start to swirl … I can remember people wondering why I was taking time off from practice to take my son to the doctor. So we decided to announce Ethan’s condition to the world. And, honestly, I believe that was one of the most important decisions we’ve ever made as a family.

After that day, I realized that God put me in this position to not only help Ethan, but also to fight for all those affected by Fanconi anemia … I have always believed that God doesn’t put more on your plate than you can handle. I wasn’t going to back away from this challenge. So Candi and I said, “Let’s go beat this disease.” And that’s when she came up with the idea to create the Kidz1stFund.

After we made Ethan’s condition public, our main goal was to bring awareness to the disease and help find a cure. That’s actually the main goal of Kidz1st. We wanted to fight for Ethan, and we wanted to fight for people who didn’t necessarily have the reach that we have. And to have you on board with us, Xay … I don’t really have words for it. I am so humbled and grateful.

That’s amazing, Coach. Yeah, as time went on, I decided I wanted to fight for Ethan, too — he’s my little bro — and for others in his position.

A couple of weeks after I got drafted by the Vikings, I was going about my business when, one day, I got news that Ethan was receiving his care for Fanconi anemia at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, the leading research hospital for the disease. That’s only a few miles away from U.S. Bank Stadium, our home turf.

When I found that out, I almost fell over. To be completely honest, when I was drafted by Minnesota, I was like, What is there to do in Minnesota? But I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Now I’m like … Minnesota is close to my heart for so many reasons. There was no doubt that I was going to come on board with Kidz1st and help you in any way possible, Coach. For all you’ve done for me … man, I’d do anything to help little Ethan. That’s my bro.

Well, it doesn’t surprise me at all that you’d want to pay it back. That’s who you are.

That’s what family’s all about. And I’m glad we’re seeing some positive results because of the work the fund is doing.

Well the team at Masonic Children’s Hospital — led by Dr. Margaret MacMillan — has made some huge advancements on the road to a cure. I mean, if you looked at Ethan, you wouldn’t know anything’s wrong with him. He’s a normal kid. He loves to play tennis, flag football (unfortunately, he can’t play contact sports because if he’s hit in the head, his body may not be able to clot the internal bleeding), golf and baseball. He loves to fish and hunt. God has given him a special personality to deal with what he has to face on a day-to-day basis. I’m so impressed with how much fight his little body has.

No doubt, Coach. Ethan’s a special kid.

Sometimes he and a couple of other boys and girls I’ve met through Kidz1st will tell me, “Xavier, you’re my hero.” I always feel a little funny hearing that. Me? A hero? All I do is play a game. These kids are fighting for their lives every single day, and they often have smiles on their faces while they’re doing it. I’ll sometimes complain about the smallest things, like waking up early for practice, or doing a couple of extra workouts. But then I’ll catch myself. I’ll think about all the tubes the doctors attach to Ethan’s chest during tests, or the little girl who has to turn away and hug her mom while the nurse takes upwards of eight vials of blood from her arm.

And then I’m reminded of who the real heroes are and why we should strive for a cure with everything we’ve got.

That’s right, Xay. I believe we can do it. We will fight for those affected by Fanconi anemia every single day, and we won’t stop until we find a cure.

Original Article Source:

Angela Bedoya: A Wolverine and FA Fighter

As the Florida State Seminoles and Michigan Wolverines met on the football field for only the second time in school history, the high-performing players had one thing on their minds: An Orange Bowl victory. But while “the stories” making headlines ranged from NFL-bound stars to devastating injuries, the most inspiring untold story was happening in the stands — where a special Michigan student was enjoying the game, as a personal guest and friend of FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher’s family and the Kidz1stFund team. Here’s her story.

Angela Bedoya celebrates four birthdays a year: the birthday of her two donors, her own birthday, and her re-birthday, the day AngelaBof her transplant. Bedoya, a senior at the University of Michigan, will graduate this December with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and a concentration within the Biochemical field. She plans to research Fanconi Anemia (FA) with the goal of improving the bone marrow transplant experience given her unique position as both a patient and student.

Diagnosed with FA — a rare blood disorder with no cure — in January of 1998 after being hospitalized with pneumonia, Bedoya was told she probably would not live to be 10 years old. Bedoya’s health remained stable prior to signs of chromosomal damage in her bone marrow during her senior year of high school. One week after her acceptance to the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering, she endured a life-changing biospy leading to a rare double cord blood transplant, commonly referred to as a double chimera. Six years later with the blood of two different donors, Bedoya credits Dr. Wagner and the staff at University of Minnesota for her treatment.

In the future, Bedoya hopes to work alongside Dr. Wagner and staff in efforts to help FA patients undergoing chemo, total body irradiation, and additional treatments involving blood and immune systems. She comments, “I feel like we, as FA patients, have to toe the line between being diligent with cancer surveillance and being hypochondriac.” For Bedoya and other FA patients alike, balancing this line may be difficult.

Bedoya finds strength in her unique circumstance, affectionately naming her donors Anita and Bonita based on the blood types A and B. Although the science behind her case is unknown, she believes, “God has blessed me with quite the miracle running through my veins.”

Regardless of their favorite football team, Ethan Fisher and Angela Bedoya, as fellow FA fighters, share a lifelong bond.

Minnesota Viking, Xavier Rhodes, Delivers Holiday Cheer To Children At University Of Minnesota Mason Children’s Hospital

IMG_2832Minnesota Viking Xavier Rhodes brought holiday cheer the morning of December, 19, 2016, to children at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s hospital. After personally shopping at a local Target retailer and selecting a variety of gifts, Rhodes hand delivered gifts to children currently staying in the hospital for treatment.

The donation event event began with a shopping trip at Target (NE Minneapolis) where a University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital Child Life Specialist guided shopping through the toy and electronics aisles. Rhodes purchased a variety of toys for kids and teens. With toys in tow, Rhodes hosted a toy drive at the hospital and was greatly appreciative of the incredible support of Vikings fans that brought gifts to share with children at the hospital this holiday season.

While at the hospital, Rhodes met with Dr. Margaret MacMillan to learn about the incredible research efforts of the University of Minnesota Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Clinic at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. He was able to see the incredible work of the hospital team and Kidz1stFund by meeting kids courageously fighting FA. Not only did this event bring holiday cheer to children at the hospital, it was an inspiring day for Rhodes.

“These kids are my heroes,” said Rhodes. “They inspire me more than they even know!”

DETAILS: Rhodes’ toy drive provided holiday gifts for many children in the hospital, including those with Fanconi Anemia (FA), a disease close to Rhodes. The son of Jimbo Fisher, Rhodes’ former Florida State University Head Football Coach, was diagnosed with FA which lead Fisher to begin a foundation called Kidz1stFund. Rhodes has continued to support his former coach and Kidz1stFund while playing in the NFL. The Kidz1stFund helps directly fund research efforts at the Masonic Children’s Hospital, the No. 1 research facility for FA in the country.

“We are family, both and and off the field and when I heard that coach Fisher was starting a foundation, I knew I wanted to support him and his family in any way I could,” said Rhodes.

About Xavier Rhodes:

Xavier Rhodes was born and raised in Miami, Florida where he attended Miami Norland High School. He played football from 2009-2012 at Florida State University before being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2013. Xavier is in his 4th season with the Vikings and continues to be a key contributor to the team’s success. As a focused and goal oriented individual, his determination continues off the field through his charity involvement with Kidz1stFund. During the off-season Xavier resides in his hometown of Miami, FL.

About University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital:

University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital brings the power of academic medicine to bear so that we can transform the health of our community for the better. We provide a broad range of pediatric specialty programs, from surgery, imaging and neonatal and pediatric intensive care to cardiac and oncology (cancer care) services and blood and marrow and organ transplantation. Our clinical staff work with patients and apply innovative research from the University of Minnesota to create and further medical breakthroughs. This has led to several medical firsts, including the first successful pediatric blood marrow transplant, infant heart transplant in Minnesota and cochlear ear implant surgery for a child. Through teamwork and collaboration, we respectfully address the physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs of pediatric patients and their families.

About Kidz1stFund:

Kidz1stFund was established by Jimbo Fisher and Candi Fisher after their younger son, Ethan, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a rare blood disease affecting about 1 in 131,000 births annually. The Fishers launched their public battle against FA in the hopes of improving treatment options, raising national awareness of the disease, and helping to fund research that will lead to a cure. The Fishers created a fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation titled “Kidz1stFund for Fanconi Anemia Research” in which all proceeds are donated to support FA research as directed by Drs. Margaret MacMillan and John Wagner, co – directors of the University of Minnesota Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Clinic. This fund supports FA research focused on the development of safer treatments for FA patients with marrow failure, myelodysplastic syndrome, and cancer as well as the identification of new therapeutic approaches for preventing and treating cancers particular to FA.

NFL Star Xavier Rhodes Fights Fanconi Anemia with Custom Kidz1stFund Cleats During Thursday Night Football

Minneapolis, Minn. – Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016 – As the Minnesota Vikings prepare to face the top ranked Cowboys tonight, Vikings Star Xavier Rhodes has teamed up with his former college football coach, FSU’s Jimbo Fisher, to tackle another huge rival off the field: Fanconi anemia. During the high-stakes Thursday Night Football game, Xavier will sport and XavierCleatslater auction off a special pair of Kidz1stFund cleats – raising awareness and funds for the rare blood disorder with no cure plaguing Fisher’s younger son, Ethan.

Along with Xavier, athletes across the NFL are honoring the charity of their choice on their feet as part of #MyCauseMyCleats Campaign in Week 13.

“I was playing under Coach Fisher when Ethan was diagnosed with FA,” said Rhodes. “I saw firsthand how it affected kids and families. Because we are family, on and off the field, I knew I wanted to support the Fisher’s and this cause in any way I could.”

Coach Jimbo and Candi Fisher are equally moved by Xavier’s gesture, which is part of a larger partnership with FSU’s former star defensive back.

Xavier Rhodes and Ethan Fisher
Xavier Rhodes and Ethan Fisher

“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see former players like Xavier step up to support my family and make a difference in our fight for a cure,” Fisher said. “Xavier is a phenomenal man and I am so grateful for his kindness and support. He reached out to us and told us he wanted to know how he could make a difference and I was blown away by his commitment. The Vikings and Minnesota are blessed to have someone that gives back to the community, but that is just who he is. I look forward to seeing him continue to excel on and off the football field.”

Rhodes is in his fourth season with the Vikings and is already proving to be a force on the gridiron – recently named the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He is taking that same competitive approach in the fight against Fanconi anemia.

Funds raised will ultimately be donated to University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, which is the nation’s leading research center for the disease and located only a few miles away from Rhodes’ US Bank Stadium locker. Xavier is also planning a Kidz1stFund weekend in December with the hospital to benefit the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Program.

Xavier Rhodes and Coach Fisher with Vinny Vitiritto, an FA Fighter

Since its inception nearly five years ago, Kidz1stFund has donated $3.5 million directly to the research center.

While all Fanconi anemia patients will ultimately need a bone marrow transplant to prolong life, research advancements have led to a higher life expectancy – from early 20’s to about 33 years old. Kidz1stFund has also sponsored bone marrow drives adding approximately 5,000 people to the National Bone Marrow Registry; eight of those individuals were selected as a match and have donated to save the life of a patient in critical need.


Video: Fisher Family Extra Thankful This Week as Showtime Spotlights Fight Against Fanconi Anemia



The Next Episode Of A SEASON WITH FLORIDA STATE FOOTBALL Premieres Tonight At 10 p.m. ET/PT On SHOWTIME®

SHOWTIME Sports released a clip from this week’s episode of “A SEASON WITH FLORIDA STATE FOOTBALL” that features Head Coach Jimbo Fisher opening up about Kidz1stFund, a charity created by Jimbo and Candi Fisher to fund the fight against Fanconi anemia—a rare blood disorder that affects their son Ethan and thousands of other children.

“Kidz1st is one of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning,” Fisher explains. “It’s one of the things that keeps me going, not only for Ethan to able to find a cure for Fanconi anemia, but it’s all the children.”

For the past five years, Kidz1stFund has encouraged people to join the National Bone Marrow Registry at, and has continued to raise awareness and funds toward research into this rare disease. For more information visit

A new episode of “A SEASON WITH FLORIDA STATE FOOTBALL” premieres tonight, Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME.