Late NFL star’s brain cancer battle continues

Less than a year ago, a beloved, former NFL kicker died of neuroendocrine cancer and related brain tumors, an outcome fraught with cruel irony.

The public is urged to support the brain cancer fundraiser started by the late Garo Yepremian on Feb. 19.

The public is urged to support a brain cancer fundraiser started by the late Garo Yepremian.

Garo Yepremian had been working for years to subsidize life-saving brain tumor research and treatment. He and his wife, Maritza, founded the nonprofit Garo Yepremian Foundation in 2001, after their daughter-in-law, Debby-Lu Tashjian Yepremian, a 1995 Unionville High graduate, had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

For more than a decade, the Yepremians organized celebrity-studded fundraisers to fight the disease, an effort that continued after their daughter-in-law lost her hard-fought battle in 2004. Then the unthinkable occurred: Garo Yepremian, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s choice as “Kicker of the Decade” from 1970-1980, received his fateful diagnosis in May 2014.

Friends and relatives said Yepremian reacted to the news with the same positive outlook and determination that pervaded his life. After all, the former NFL standout had never even seen a football game before playing in one. He came to the U.S. from Cyprus at age 22 because his brother had watched a football game on TV and thought his sibling could kick well enough to get a free education.

Yepremian went on to a 15-year NFL career that included stints with the Detroit Lions, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Miami Dolphins. His retirement created new opportunities: He wrote three books, excelled on the speaking circuit, and took up oil painting – with proceeds going to the foundation.

He also maintained strong bonds with friends and relatives, ensuring that the work of the foundation would continue.

On Friday, Feb. 19, the foundation will host the Sixth Annual Casino Night, a fundraiser that encourages participants to roll the dice to support brain cancer research. It will be held at the Desmond Hotel in Malvern from 6 to 11 p.m.

Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are $125 per person and include casino gaming chips, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, buffet, complimentary martini bar, celebrity guest appearances, auction items, table prizes, and a charitable contribution.

Sponsorship opportunities are encouraged and will include the sponsor’s logo on gaming table signs and a PowerPoint presentation. For more information, visit http://www.yepremian.org, write to Box 1231, Avondale, Pa., 19311, or call 610-268-2299.

 

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