Friday, May 16, 2014

5 Questions Answered By Someone Awesome - Billy Cundiff

Never forget to be AWESOME. 
I love finding awesome wisdom nuggets from people around me, friends or strangers, it doesn't matter. People around you can be inspiration for you to improve the world around you or just a better way to grab toast out of the toaster. 

Last season, I learned how awesome Browns Kicker, Billy Cundiff is. 

During the season, he worked with Cleveland Clinic and donated for $200 for every field goal to  Ovarian Cancer research in conjunction with Colleen's Dream Foundation. Browns Punter, Spencer Lanning, along with other NFL Kickers joined in. 

It is safe to say that we can all agree that cancer in any form sucks. Ovarian Cancer, however, is particularly insidious. You can read more about it here, but rest assured, it is awful. There is hope however, and that hope comes in the form of research.  With early detection and improved treatment, women have a fighting chance against Ovarian Cancer. 

Billy was kind enough to answer 5 questions for me, about why he is involved with ovarian cancer research and what he would like fans to know. 

Before you read his answers, I'm going to share something with you....Billy Cundiff is one of the nicest, most polite people I have ever been in contact with.  He really is a great guy. 

If you would like to help fight ovarian cancer, cheer for Billy this year when he makes a field goal.  You can also find out more information about Colleen's Dream Foundation here

Browns Kicker, Billy Cundiff
1. Cleveland Browns fans know you as the Kicker. What else would you like fans to know about you?

Kicking is something I do, but it's not who I am.  I strive to be the best kicker in the NFL every year, but in the end my character means more to me than the stats. 
On a personal note, I take a lot pride in being a good father and husband.  I have an entrepreneurial spirit.  My hobbies include learning and traveling.  I take philanthropy seriously.  Throughout my life I have lived all over this amazing country and wouldn’t have it any other way.  I spent my formative years in small town Iowa, yet I love big city life. 

2. Last season, your Kicking For The Dream Foundation supported Colleen's Dream. How did you get involved in supporting Ovarian Cancer research?

Colleen's Dream is named after my mother-in-law, Colleen Drury. At the time of her diagnosis, we didn't know that much about ovarian cancer.   We were shocked to learn that mortality rates hadn’t changed much in 40 years.  It looked like getting late stage ovarian cancer was a death sentence.  My wife, Nicole, and I along with her sisters decided something had to be done, so we started to raise funds for research and rolling out grassroots awareness campaigns. We held a couple of parties in Colleen's back yard to raise money for the University of Arizona Cancer Center. We were all so grateful for the outpouring of support (over 500 people came to one of the parties) and it gave us the confidence to later start Colleen’s Dream.  In 2012, after the ovarian cancer metastasized to Colleen’s lungs, we decided the time was right to use my platform as an NFL kicker to legitimize our fundraising efforts and really make a difference in women’s lives.  Colleen helped us shape the vision of the foundation.  Today, we carry on her legacy and strive to make a difference for all women. 

3. I think you are so awesome because of your positive attitude and what you are trying to do to defeat Ovarian Cancer. You are working with Kickers and Punters from high school to the Pros with your Foundation. How did you get all of them involved, where did the idea come from to donate for kicks? 

We came up with the idea for Kicking For The Dream while Colleen was in hospice care.  During my time in the NFL, most teams had programs to donate to a charity after a field goal was made.  After discussing, we started wondering why high schoolers couldn't do the same thing.  I was invited to speak at a high school camp in Florida, so I presented the idea to all the participants as a test.  The response was overwhelming.  Kicking coaches from this camp started telling their kickers and punters.  Eventually, we got the NFL guys to participate.  Our goal the first year was to raise $10,000.  We crushed that and raised over $40,000.

4. You have interacted with thousands of fans through your career. What is your favorite fan story or an interaction that stuck in your mind? 

While in Dallas, we had a Make-A-Wish kid visit practice.  The kid looked perfectly happy and healthy.  However, both parent's faces told a different story.  Their youngest son had a brain tumor that was located behind his eyes which meant that doctors couldn't operate on him.  It was only a matter of time before he would just one day collapse and die.  He ran around with his older brother and played catch with a bunch of the guys on the team.  I didn't have kids at the time, but it really hit me hard.  These parents would never know when their son was going to take his last breath.  As a parent today, I still can't fathom what they were going through.  It's been over ten years and the emotions are still just as strong.

5. Last question, who do you think is awesome?

I think my wife, Nicole,  is pretty awesome.  We started dating in college and became best friends.  She has been by my side during this entire crazy ride through the NFL.  She is talented (executive director of foundation, law school graduate, mom of three) and has a great personality and sense of style.  Here is more background info on her:  I could go on and on.  Just meet her and you will agree that she is awesome.

As far as someone from Cleveland is concerned, I think Spencer Lanning is awesome. He is a great guy and teammate. He was actively involved with Kicking for the Dream last season and because of his contribution, we were able to give a big grant to the Cleveland Clinic. He and his girlfriend, Brittany, also came to Phoenix this off-season for our inaugural golf tournament and gala. Nicole and I feel very fortunate to have his support and to call him a friend.

During the season, I like to practice yoga on Monday night's at Inner Bliss Yoga Studio.  Tammy Lyons is a great teacher.  I have practiced all over the country during my time in the NFL and its tough to find someone better than her.  She is truly awesome.  Her studio has a great vibe.  She has built a great yoga community.  I met Tammy because she used to teach yoga to the Browns when I was first with the team in 2009.  Cleveland is a better place because of her.
Spencer Lanning and Billy Cundiff. 

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