Chris Draft is the Founder, President, and CEO of the Chris Draft Family Foundation (CDFF) whose mission has been to empower families to lead healthy lifestyles. He is the Co-Founder of Team Draft, leading the creation of a national campaign that is changing the face of lung cancer. He is an internationally recognized speaker, community leader, and family and character advocate who serves as an NFL Ambassador and a national spokesperson on many health-related issues, including the care and treatment of asthma, from which he suffers, and lung cancer, the disease that claimed the life of his wife, Keasha in 2011.
A graduate of Stanford University with a BS in Economics, Chris played football and baseball with the Cardinal. As a three-year starter at linebacker, and senior captain, Draft was an All-Pac 10 performer. In 1998, he was drafted by the Chicago Bears, ultimately spending 12 years in the NFL. In addition to the Bears, Chris played for the San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, St Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills, and Washington Redskins, finishing his NFL playing career in 2010.
In 2006, while with the Carolina Panthers, Chris established the Chris Draft Family Foundation, which focuses on several primary initiatives that stress the importance of family, education, healthy lifestyles, character development, personal responsibility, self-discipline, and physical fitness. His playing career allowed him a national platform to become a powerful community advocate across the country using his skills as a leader and speaker, and to act on his compassion for helping those less fortunate.
Just a few months after his NFL retirement in 2010, Chris would be rocked. In 2006, while with the Panthers, he met Keasha Rutledge. A Clemson University graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, Keasha was a successful pharmaceutical sales executive, a former Charlotte Hornets Honeybee dancer and member of Clemson University’s Rally Cat dance squad. In November 2010, Keasha was the vision of health and a non-smoker, doing P90X and preparing to run in a 10K race. Shortness of breath led her to see her primary care physician who ordered X-rays and discovered a mass in her chest. Additional tests and confirmed Stage IV Lung Cancer.
On November 27, 2011, standing side-by-side, Chris and Keasha launched Team Draft at their wedding with the expressed goal to fight lung cancer. Just one month later, Keasha lost her courageous fight and died at the age of 38.
On Super Bowl Sunday morning in 2012, just 40 days after Keasha’s death, ESPN shared an emotional and impactful video of Chris and Keasha’s journey. (http://www.teamdraft.org/about/) The video has been shared over 1.1 million times through espn.com and has become a call for action and hope. At the conclusion of the video, Team Draft launched the National Campaign to Change the Face of Lung Cancer.
A selfless leader, Chris continues to fight for and develop deep, authentic relationships with lung cancer survivors, their caregivers, doctors and cancer centers all over the map.