MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings cornerback and former Florida State star Xavier Rhodes announced today his partnership with Kidz1stFund, the foundation created by his college coach, Jimbo Fisher, and Candi Fisher with the mission of raising research money for Fanconi anemia — a rare blood disease with no cure that affects the Fishers’ younger son, Ethan, and 1 in every 131,000 people born in the US each year. The leading research for the disease is being conducted only a few miles away from Rhodes’ US Bank Stadium locker at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital.
Rhodes is entering his fourth season with the Vikings and is already proving to be a force on the gridiron. He is taking that same competitive approach in the fight against Fanconi anemia. Rhodes starred for Fisher’s Seminoles from 2010 to 2012 before being selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Like many of the players on the FSU roster, Rhodes spent considerable time with Fisher’s sons, Trey and Ethan, and was a member of the team when Ethan was diagnosed in 2011.
“Coach Fisher and Candi created a special bond with all of the players,” Rhodes said. “Being a Seminole means you are forever a member of one big family. Coach Fisher taught me so much on and off the field — and it is a privilege to support Kidz1stFund by using my platform in the NFL to raise awareness for the fight against Fanconi anemia.
Fisher is equally moved to partner with his former star defensive back, who plans to serve as a foundation spokesperson and remain actively involved with Ethan and other children affected.
“I can’t tell you how much it means to me to see former players like Xavier step up to support my family and make a difference in our fight for a cure,” Fisher said. “Xavier is a phenomenal man and I am so grateful for his kindness and support. He reached out to us and told us he wanted to know how he could make a difference and I was blown away by his commitment. The Vikings and Minnesota are blessed to have someone that gives back to the community, but that is just who he is. I look forward to seeing him continue to excel on and off the football field.”
Since its inception nearly five years ago Kidz1stFund has donated $3.5 million directly to research for the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Program at the University of Minnesota. While all Fanconi anemia patients will ultimately need a bone marrow transplant to prolong life, research advancements have led to a higher life expectancy — from early 20’s to about 33 years old. Kidz1stFund has also sponsored bone marrow drives adding approximately 5,000 people to the National Bone Marrow Registry; eight of those individuals were selected as a match and have donated to save the life of a patient in critical need.