Colts net more than $650,000 for cancer research

After coach Chuck Pagano’s bout with leukemia last season, the Indianapolis Colts organization has devoted itself to raising money for cancer research and awareness.

Thus far, they’ve done a damn fine job.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the campaign has topped $1.1 million, with more than $650,000 netted during Friday’s inaugural “Chuckstrong Tailgate Gala.”

The Gala was held at the Colts complex, and featured quarterback Andrew Luck throwing passes to 24 people who donated $1,000.

“What an experience,” Anthony Najem, CEO of Meyer Najem Construction, said. “Andrew Luck first asked me, he said, ‘All right, what play are we doing?’ I said, ‘The hook and go, and I’m going to go from the right to the left.’ (Luck) said, ‘Cool.’ And then he fired the ball and I caught it, which is so amazing.”

Several silent auctions also were held, including a trip for 10 to a 2013 Colts away game in the Irsay jet, an estimated value of $75,000.

“We’ve had a great partnership with (the IU Simon Cancer Center),” said Colts co-owner Kalen Irsay. “But (the center) also obviously holds a very special place in our heart because they saved his life. (Pagano) got the best treatment there. I don’t think we could have asked for anything more. And his family can attest to it the same way.”

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Zack Kelberman
An award-winning sportswriter, reporter and blogger, Zack currently serves as the Miami Dolphins live correspondent and Team Stream curator for Bleacher Report. He's also a freelance NFL writer and the founder/editor-in-chief of Helmet2Helmet. His work has appeared on media outlets such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports,,, and Zack can be reached on Twitter (@ZackKelberman) or via email (