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Third Annual Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala Supports Cancer Research

Intro: On Friday night, the Colts turned their indoor facility at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center into an event where supporting cancer research was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.





INDIANAPOLIS – The Colts mantra for 2015 is "nobody fights alone".

On Friday night, at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center, that fight was up against the biggest of bullies, with hundreds of people banding together versus that battle.

The third annual Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala, hosted by the Colts and Chuck Pagano was busy supporting cancer research.

"Shout out to everybody who had a hand in making this event possible," Pagano said on Friday night. "All the people down at Simon Cancer Center, IU Health, shout out to all the doctors the scientists, the researchers, that's who we are honoring tonight. They are selfless, selfless people. They spend their entire lives trying to find cures for cancer and that's what this event is all about, raising money for cancer research and hopefully, our goal is to right here in Indianapolis to find a cure for all blood cancers and maybe, just maybe, we see that happen in our lifetime.

"Really, really appreciative of the Irsay family, the coaches, the players, the cheerleaders, it's phenomenal. It's really turned into something pretty special. I'm just glad that I'm blessed to be here and be able to serve and give back."

The third annual Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala was hosted by the Colts and Chuck Pagano. The event raised money for the IU Simon Cancer Center.

Since 2012, the Chuckstrong initiative has generated more than $1.6 million for IU cancer research.

Earlier this week, Pagano found another example of just how far this cause has reached.

On Monday afternoon, Brandon Wood, age 12, came to the Colts Complex to present Pagano a check of $900. Brandon had raised the money through a fundraiser to support cancer research at the IU/Simon Cancer Center.

Pagano's gratitude towards the local community and what they meant to him during his own fight continues to hold true today.

On Friday night, Pagano was asked if he was surprised by just how much the gala, and the research in general, has grown.

"I wasn't here very long and with the support I got from this city and the way they embraced me and my cancer journey, I'm not shocked," Pagano said. "This city, this state, this organization, top to bottom, is just littered with very, very good people. Kind people, selfless people, people who love helping one another. It's Hoosier hospitality at it's finest.

"Am I surprised? No. But I'm just very grateful and very thankful that we have the support that we have and the people are willing to give back and be generous with their blessings and the gifts that they have, so that we can continue to fund the doctors and the nurses and the scientists and the researchers so they can do their job."

Colts Owner Jim Irsay was in attendance on Friday night and remembers vividly delivering that game ball to Pagano at the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, back in the coach's first game away from the team in October of 2012.

Friday's event was possible thanks to everyone who a hand in Pagano's fight, one that was certainly not fought alone.

"We are just so happy to see Chuck doing so well," Irsay said. "It seems like a long time ago that we went through that and he is doing well and this gala helps out so many people. It's about finding a cure and getting people better.

"Chuck has reached out to so many people that you guys don't even know about. On the phone, taking his time, personally talking to people going through this illness, family's with it. He's been unbelievable with what he's done with his compassion and his strength, hope and experience. This is such a great night and we have a chance to bring even bigger attention to it. It's been a blessing to be a part of it"

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