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CHUCKSTRONG Tailgate Gala raises ‘nearly $2 million’ for cancer research

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Friday night’s CHUCKSTRONG Tailgate Gala raised more than $1.7 million, according to the Indiana University Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The funds will be used for cancer research at the IU Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.

This was the 11th CHUCKSTRONG Tailgate Gala, an event in part inspired by former Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who is a cancer survivor himself.

“We’ve got a ton of people here that are survivors because of research,” said Pagano. “Because of money that was raised and went directly to research.”

Indianapolis Colts owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay tweeted his thanks to the crowd on Saturday morning, recognizing its generosity to help raise “nearly $2 million.”

Irsay’s full tweet can be seen here:

Notable guests on Friday included Washington Commanders Head Coach Ron Rivera and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Ray Lewis.

Lewis says he gets a phone call every year about the event, and nice knowing that Pagano continues to do this event.

“It’s one thing to be diagnosed with cancer — it’s another thing to come on the other side of it and want to help other people get through it,” said Lewis.

Rivera knows what cancer can do first-hand. He is a cancer survivor, like Pagano.

“I know when I found out Pagano had cancer, I sent him a note,” said Rivera. “And then when he found out I had cancer, he sent me a note. So, having somebody behind you and supporting you means a lot.”

News 8 Sports Director Anthony Calhoun served as emcee of Friday’s event.

The CHUCKSTRONG Tailgate Gala has now raised almost $14 million for cancer research since the annual event was created.