CLEVELAND, April 23, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® patient Fletcher will be a special "virtual" guest of the National Football League (NFL) when he announces the Cleveland Browns' Round 1 draft pick with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the 2020 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 23. This annual in-person appearance by a St. Jude patient will be virtual for 2020, with a recorded message from Fletcher passing to the live selection by Commissioner Goodell as they team up to raise awareness of the St. Jude mission: Finding cures. Saving children.®
Fletcher, 12, and his family live in the greater Cleveland area and are lifelong Cleveland Browns fans. Fletcher was first diagnosed with a very rare brain cancer in July 2019 and was immediately referred to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital where he underwent surgery to remove the tumor, followed by a series of proton therapy and chemotherapy treatments. He successfully completed treatment in March 2020 and is now back home near Cleveland with plans to return to St. Jude for checkups.
"We are grateful for our long-standing partnership with the NFL, which has included supporting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through the NFL Draft and the NFL's Play 60 initiatives, as well as fundraising through national campaigns like Run Rich Run, all of which not only create global awareness, but provide incredible experiences for our patients and families," said Richard C. Shadyac Jr., President & CEO, ALSAC the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. "The 2020 NFL Draft will provide a special opportunity for fans around the country to learn how we can all come together in new and innovative ways during this time of separation, a time when raising funds is vital to our mission. We are honored that the NFL has invited Fletcher to represent St. Jude and all of the children fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases."
During the 2019 NFL season, Fletcher had the opportunity to visit the Cleveland Browns' training facility. He also received a pair of gloves from Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry before a game in November 2019, while home between radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Landry has not only reached out to Fletcher directly wishing him well throughout his treatment, but he showed his support by wearing one of Fletcher's wristbands during every 2019 game.
"I am so excited to help announce a Round 1 selection for the Cleveland Browns during the NFL draft. I have followed this team for a long time and the Browns have been really supportive of me during my treatment," said Fletcher. "I am so happy that the NFL supports St. Jude because St. Jude is awesome. I thank them both for this opportunity. Go Browns!"
St. Jude and the NFL's partnership spans more than eight years, which includes the NFL PLAY 60 program and Run Rich Run. These fundraising programs help patients and families cope with serious illnesses through play therapy, peer interaction and more. The combined efforts are instrumental in creating support and awareness for the lifesaving mission of St. Jude while also providing patients with unique experiences at various NFL events.
The NFL Draft kicks off virtually at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23, and will air live on the NFL Network, ESPN, ABC and online at NFL.com/Watch.
To learn more about St. Jude and the NFL, visit stjude.org/nfl.
To see more about Fletcher's story, visit StJudeInspire.org.
About St. Jude Children's Research Hospital®
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Its purpose is clear: Finding cures. Saving children.® It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to more than 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude won't stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, sharing stories and videos from St. Jude Inspire, liking St. Jude on Facebook, following St. Jude on Twitter and Instagram and subscribing to its YouTube channel.
SOURCE ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital