While Sunday’s blowout loss against the Rams wasn’t pretty, the pre-game festivities were quite the opposite. Kareem Jackson walked onto the field with his beautiful mother, a two-time breast cancer survivor.
“It’s something I will never forget. For my mom to have fought breast cancer twice, it was definitely a blessing for my family and was an honor to walk on the field with her,” Jackson said.
Sunday afternoon the Texans equipped fans with “Texans Stand Together Against Breast Cancer” pink signs where each person could write who they “stand” for as part of the effort to raise awareness throughout the NFL and its fan base. And while the Texans are undoubtedly making some changes and trying to fix some costly mistakes from the game, cornerbacks Jackson and Johnathan Joseph switched their focus Monday night as they teamed up at the Houston Texans Grille for their “Tailgating for a Cure” fundraiser.
"We all know someone touched by this disease and anytime you have an event, you want to come out and support your brother that plays next to you and the guys in the same locker room."
The event is personal to both players, as Joseph's father is currently battling lung cancer and Jackson's mother is a breast cancer survivor. Proceeds benefit the American Lung Association and Sister’s Network, Inc. Fans showed up in droves to catch a glimpse of some of their favorite players, including Brian Cushing, Arian Foster, Wade Smith, Duane Brown, Andre Johnson, Ed Reed, and J.J. Watt, and support the worthy cause.
Smith knows firsthand how much it means having your teammates there for support. “I think it’s something we always do as a team. We’re kind of a brotherhood and we like to support each other on our various events and various charities. This one is near and dear to J-Jo and Kareem based on their family members' experiences. Cancer is something that affects everybody and we wanted to come out and show our support. That's why we're here,” he said.
Jackson and Joseph were both in awe of their teammates' turnout. “We all have the same heart, a close heart. We all know someone touched by these diseases and anytime you have an event, you want to come out and support your brother that plays next to you and the guys in the same locker room. I’d like to thank those guys for taking time out of their day and just coming out,” Jackson said.
Saluting the birthday girl
The highlight of the evening (even more than the touchdown dance contest or the silent auction) was the birthday celebration for Kyssi Andrews who was sporting a white tutu and bedazzled Arian Foster jersey. Kyssi was diagnosed with kidney cancer and eventually had one of her kidneys removed. Just three months later, she began her tough battle with Stage 4 lung cancer.
“Although the odds were against her, God said something totally different,” her mother, Marla Jones, said on stage just before the audience (Texans players included) sang "Happy Birthday" to celebrate Kyssi's very special fifth birthday.
Jones said the Texans' love and support "means the world to me, as a mother. This is a very special day because doctors didn't think she would make it to her fifth birthday. She’s a fighter, that’s all she knows, she’s had to fight her entire life.”
Joseph and Jackson presented the youngster with an elaborate Hello Kitty birthday cake and a walking life-size Hello Kitty balloon. Several Houston Texans cheerleaders gave Kyssi her very own cheerleading outfit, including the red knee-high boots.
Johnathan Joseph’s wife, Delania Joseph, marveled at the event’s turnout and the upbeat attitudes despite the team's loss a day earlier. “I didn’t expect for tonight to be this big, to have all these people come out and support me and Johnathan for such a great cause. It shows what kind of fan base we have in Houston."