What began as an impromptu fundraising initiative is now a thriving nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $10 million for cancer research.
The Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Fund was launched in 1970 by the family, friends and NFL teammates of Brian Piccolo, the Chicago Bears running back who died from a rare form of cancer, embryonal cell carcinoma. Brian left behind his wife, Joy, and daughters Lori, Traci and Kristi. He also left behind a legacy of love and courage that was recounted in Jeannie Morris’ best-selling biography, Brian Piccolo: A Short Season, and in the film, Brian’s Song. Brian Piccolo played for the Chicago Bears for only four seasons, and his statistics were not remarkable, but the fact that Piccolo’s number, 41, is one of the few retired in the Bears’ long history and the Piccolo name is still revered by football fans everywhere, is a testimony to the remarkable values Brian brought to both the game and to life. What began as an impromptu fundraising initiative is now a thriving nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $10 million for cancer research, including the establishment of endowed chairs at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Institute and Rush University Medical Center.