Jerry Kill, Minnesota Golden Gophers head football coach, formerly SIU head football coach, experienced significant health challenges. Coach Kill’s seizure at a football game in the fall of 2005 and the subsequent treatment of this seizure disorder led to much public reporting concerning his health condition. Little known to most everyone was the fact that while Coach Kill was undergoing diagnostic testing for issues related to his seizure disorder, an X-Ray revealed a tumor on his kidney which was later diagnosed as cancerous.
Coach Kill kept the information regarding his being diagnosed with cancer to his family and very few close friends. Upon the completion of the fall 2005 football season, Coach Kill underwent the surgery recommended to him by the team of physicians he had consulted. This involved the removal of a portion of one of his kidneys. Jerry’s extensive exposure to the healthcare system and to the many other patients that he interacted with during his treatment led him to want to create a means of assisting others who were not as fortunate as he in terms of resources.
In Jerry’s words, “Although it might sound strange, this may be one of the best things that has happened to me. Through this disease I have met many people, and communicated with many others, who are going through the same process that I am. I am very fortunate to have the means to continue to seek treatment, but I have met many at the hospital, and many others throughout southern Illinois, who are not as fortunate to have the resources that I am fortunate to be blessed with. This makes me feel both grateful and guilty. Because I have seen first hand what others have faced, I would like to give something back. I think the hardest moments in dealing with this disease were when I went for treatment and saw children, middle-aged individuals, and the elderly who may not have the opportunity to see another day.”
As a result, Coach Kill and his wife Rebecca decided to establish a fund to assist needy families and individuals coping with cancer or other childhood diseases. Working with Southern Illinois Healthcare, a not-for–profit health care system comprised of three hospitals in the southern Illinois region, the Coach Kill Cancer Fund was created.
Proceeds from the fund will be used to assist low-income southern Illinois residents with medical costs due to cancer or other childhood diseases not covered though other private and public means. Fund proceeds may also be used to assist patients and their families with the associated expenses resulting from medical treatment such as transportation and lodging.
Jerry and his wife Rebecca, along with a dedicated group of individuals who have volunteered to be on an Advisory Team, will be working to raise awareness of the fund and seek additional financial support from the southern Illinois community to enhance the impact of this work.
You can get involved by donating to the fund.
You can help score a touchdown for southern Illinoisans who need help coping in their fight against cancer.
Consider making a donation to the Coach Kill Cancer Fund.