Less than two weeks ago John Harbaugh was taking photos with Steelers fans, and sitting alongside Mike Tomlin. No, this isn't bizarro world, instead it's for an outstanding charity event fighting cancer.
Photo credit: Dan Greene/ The MMQB
"A Night of Heroes" is the name of the charity event, and it was held at the Baltimore Harbor Hotel on May 19th. A Night of Heroes had partnered with Baltimore Charity, There Goes My Hero. Their mission statement:
Our mission is to restore hope to leukemia patients and their families by increasing registered bone marrow donors, providing nutritious meals to patients undergoing treatment, and supporting blood cancer research
The event was an absolute hit, and the main goal, helping to feed leukemia patients during treatment and register possible bone marrow donors to the National Bone Marrow Registry seemed to have been accomplished.
This event was quite personal for the Ravens on many levels. Baltimore Radio personality Nestor Aparicio and his wife Jenn have been in a battle against leukemia. Jenn was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia back in 2014, and conquered the cancer twice now.
Part of the campaign is swabbing the cheeks of guests and find if they are a match for those in need of a bone marrow transplant. Jenn has received the transplant from a 21 year old German man twice, and thus saved her life. This event isn't just about raising dollar bills, but to save persons lives.
Another tie-in to the Baltimore Ravens, former special team captain for Super Bowl XXXV squad James Trapp also beat leukemia in 2010. Trapp was present for the event.
How "A Night of Heroes" came to be:
The 2016 Night of Heroes is a follow-up to last years. The event was to honor Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, Ravens president and kidney donor Dick Cass, and Maryland women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, whose son, Tyler Thomas, beat childhood leukemia in 2013.
The Ravens & Steelers event sprouted from a relationship between the two teams. Brothers Ma'ake & Chris Kemoeatu played for Baltimore and Pittsburgh respectively. Ma'ake retired from NFL play to donate a kidney to Chris, and Aparicio saw this on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Nestor saw potential, as he was a friend of Mike Tomlin through NFL owners meetings, and thought the Ravens and Steelers could come together for a single night, for a true cause.
Many familiar names were present for both squads. Brian Billick, John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and James Trapp. Ma'ake & Chris could unfortunately not attend due to a family members passing.
The night, although filled with fun jokes and digs at the opposite team received 86 new swabs, and new hope that one more life can be saved with a transplant. One more story of human generosity saving anothers life, the exact reason for the most heated rivalry in the NFL joining together.
To read more on There Goes my Hero:
If you would like to register and become a donor