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Former Colts head coach hosts annual fundraiser for cancer research

12th annual ChuckStrong Tailgate Gala

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano held his 12th annual Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala on Friday night at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.

The event raises awareness and funds for cancer research, benefitting the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Pagano went through a public battle with leukemia early in his tenure as Colts head coach.

“I said it day one,” Pagano said. “Tina (my wife) and I said, look, (when) we win our battle, we get on the other side of this. So many people that reached out to me, supported me and my family, encouraged us. We said, ‘Hey. We got to pay this thing forward and give back to others.’”

He helped create the event as a way to do just that and make a difference in the fight to find a cure.

“Cancer doesn’t discriminate,” Pagano said. “We got to do whatever we can to try to knock out all blood cancers.”

After this year’s event ended, the Colts posted on X, formally known as Twitter, that the gala raised $1.5 million on Friday.

The IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center also posted on the platform, thanking the Colts and Pagano for their continued support.

Entering Friday, the event had raised over $14 million since its start over a decade ago.

Former Colts quarterback Andrew Luck was back in the Circle City to support his former coach at this year’s event.

“To see how his legacy in this way continues in the city and the Simon Cancer Center and IU and what he’s done,” Luck said. “I remember being at the first one, when we were all much younger.”

News 8 Sports Director Anthony Calhoun helped emcee the event and posted the following on his X account.

“It’s fun to support,” Luck said. “Fun to give back, just like Chuck’s giving back to this community.”