Joe Medley commentary: Fishers get big chance to spotlight Kidz1stFund

December 31, 2013 

PASADENA, Calif. -- Candi Fisher's family has its causes, and two of their dearest causes were on display at Tuesday's welcome news conference for the Bowl Championship Series title game.

The former Candi Coogler and her family love their college football, and the Piedmont native and wife of Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says no one in her camp is conflicted about Monday's showdown between the top-ranked Seminoles and No. 2 Auburn.

Though Auburn is from her home state and employed Jimbo as an assistant coach in the mid-1990s, count the Coogler clan solidly behind Florida State in Monday's game.

"We have no Auburn fans in our family, not one," Candi said with a laugh. "As a matter of fact, it was kind of hard when Jimbo and I were at Auburn, because I've got a family full of Alabama fans.

"They're not conflicted right now."

More than college football, they love Ethan Fisher, Candi's and Jimbo's youngest son, and they're on page with the foundation the Fishers started to raise awareness and money for research to combat Ethan's disease and aid other families affected by it.

On a day when news surrounded the arrival of Florida State's and Auburn's teams in California and Jimbo Fisher signing a new contract, reportedly worth $4 million a year through 2019, media requested Candi to share the stage with her husband. They got to share news that the Kidz1stFund sent an $800,000 check to the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Children's Hospital, home to the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Program.

That brings total money donated to $1.8 million since the foundation started in 2011, ESPN's Tom Rinaldi announced during Tuesday's press conference at the Disneyland ESPN Zone.

The Florida State chapter of Uplifting Athletes will hold a Touchdown Pledge Drive at Monday's game. Fans can donate at www.upliftingathletes.org/fsu prior to kickoff.

"It's been unbelievable how well this cause has taken off," Candi said later. "We've worked hard, and we've promoted it as much as we can."

Florida State's football success has helped. The Fishers recently did a TV spot on Fox & Friends, and the "Today" show will air a piece.

"It's just really picked up steam and just grown into something that I never imagined it would become," Candi said.

The Fishers started the foundation upon learning that Ethan, their 8-year-old son, has FA. They saw an opportunity to use the high profile afforded Jimbo's work to help their son and other families affected by the rare genetic blood disorder.

FA affects one in 131,000 people and occurs equally across both genders and all ethnic groups. It can cause a variety of health issues, including kidney problems and heart defects.

Nearly all who have FA eventually see declining blood count, leading to bone marrow failure. Ethan will need a bone marrow transplant.

The average life expectancy is 29 years, with some patients living into their 30s.

As for Ethan, "He's doing well right now," Candi said. "His counts continue to stay stable, which is what we need them to do, but time isn't on our side. That's why we just tried hard as we can to do as much as we can for as long as we can. That's been kind of our motto since we started this.

"Hopefully, he'll continue to stay healthy long enough for us to keep plugging along. Maybe when he gets to the point where things are changing for him, maybe the technology and the treatment he needs will have changed, as well."

Here's hoping the platform of major college football's national championship will help.

-- Sports columnist Joe Medley: jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter@jmedley_star.

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