Bengals, System, ZList

Employees, Cancer Survivors Honored at Bengals’ Crucial Catch Game

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The sun shone brightly on Paycor Stadium on an uncharacteristically warm mid-October day. But the higher temperatures didn’t stop many attendees from experiencing goosebumps. 

On Sunday, October 23, the Cincinnati Bengals faced the Atlanta Falcons, but this game was about more than football. The message during the Bengals’ Crucial Catch game rang clear: the cancer community is strong and full of support—and there is hope in early detection.

“As someone who works with cancer patients every day, the hope is that the faster we can catch cancer, the faster we can start working toward your needs: ‘how can we help you through this,’ ‘what treatment do you need,’ ‘what does your medication cost look like?’ Crucial Catch is crucial because it’s life-altering,” said Jami Holbrook, medication assistance counselor for Specialty Pharmacy as part of Kettering Health Cancer Care. Known system-wide for her singing voice, Holbrook was invited to deliver the national anthem at the game.

Throughout the day, we joined the Bengals in honoring those impacted by cancer: those who have won the fight, those who are currently fighting, and the legacy of those who have passed.

The highlight of the day came at halftime. For the first time in an NFL football game halftime show, cancer survivors rang a bell to celebrate winning the battle against cancer. Nine survivors (two are employees, seven are our patients), Robyn Hurles, Lisha Michels, “PJ” Peggy Babb-Carlisle, Brian Lohrey, Elise Abraham (mother, Beka Abraham), Angela Lohrey, Kevin Thompson, Karla Bowman, and five-year-old Mila Quillen (mother, Lindsey Quillen), were invited onto the field for a ceremony dedicated to “ringing out cancer.”

“We’ll rise up, in spite of the ache. We’ll rise up, and we’ll do it a thousand times again,” sang the lead singer of Zodiac Cat, as she delivered a heart-wrenching rendition of “Rise Up” by Andra Day during the ceremony.

Jeff Clinger, a Bengals fan for more than 50 years and network manager of Employee Health for Kettering Health, was cheering on his favorite football team from the stands. He reflected on the day saying, “The cancer survivors ringing the bell was very emotional. The live band singing ‘Rise Up’ and ending with five-year-old survivor, Mila, made the ceremony.” The impact of the moment was not lost on fans outside of the system. Many took to Twitter to share what the experience meant to them.

Our employees were involved in several other aspects of Sunday’s game.

More than 40 volunteers passed out “I Celebrate” signs to fans as they entered the gates. They were encouraged to find a Kettering Health tent around the stadium where they could write in who they celebrate and pose with various photo props. All employees were also invited to participate through a social media contest, and we will reveal the winners later this week.

In preparation for the game, Kelly Long, breast cancer survivor and creative services manager for Kettering Health, delivered the game ball alongside CEO Fred Manchur.

Holbrook then officially commenced the game by serenading more than 60,000 attendees with a breathtaking delivery of the national anthem, which concluded with a flyover by the Navy Fighter Squadron Composite 13. “Singing is a calling on my life. It’s a huge way of how I express who I am and what I’m feeling,” she shared.

“For me to potentially have brought joy and sunshine to those impacted by cancer by singing the national anthem at the Crucial Catch game, that’s what matters most,” said Holbrook. “It all ties back to wanting to help in any way I can–whether that’s by saying ‘good morning’ to patients, singing at an NFL football game, or by doing my job assisting with financial needs.”

This day was an inspirational moment for our system, the Cincinnati Bengals, and people everywhere impacted by cancer. “This game is why our partnership with the Bengals is so important. Being able to collaborate to impact outcomes and save lives in our community is monumental. We look forward to continuing to make a difference through our partnership,” said Jimmy Phillips, vice president of Marketing and Communications for Kettering Health. 

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October 25, 2022