NFL Network host Rich Eisen challenged people to join him in his annual 40-yard dash to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the fight against pediatric cancer, and with a little help from his dog, Tahoe, Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera answered the call.
In a video Rivera released via his personal Twitter account, Tahoe ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 3.39 seconds. After Tahoe set what would have been an NFL record, Rivera announced that he and his wife, Stephanie, are donating $100,000 to St. Jude as part of the #RunRichRun efforts, specifically to the Red Frog Proton Therapy Center. Rivera also said that team owners Dan and Tanya Snyder are matching their donation.
"Thank you very much [Rich]," Rivera said in the video. "Really do appreciate the opportunity you've given us to run for St. Jude Children's Hospital and raise $200,000 on behalf of the Washington Football Team."
The video started with Rivera lining up in a runner's stance to run the 40-yard dash. Then Rivera stood up and said, "You know what, Rich? Actually, I'm not going to run this. A family member of mine is going to run this." That's when Tahoe entered the scene, and with Rivera encouraging him by saying, "Go get it! Go get it!" over and over again, Tahoe sprinted down the field to retrieve a ball Rivera had thrown.
Rivera was diagnosed with a type of skin cancer in August of 2020 and had to undergo treatment for a part of the season. While there were moments where the treatment took its toll more so than others, Rivera only missed a handful of practices and no games. The organization surrounded him with support, even going so far as to surprise him with a "Coach's Corner" of FedExField that had been lined with cutouts submitted by players, coaches and staff members during the team's game encouraging him to continue his fight against cancer.
"It really just shows you you're really not doing this by yourself," Rivera said. "There's a whole bunch of people helping you do this."
Rivera knew he was fortunate to be in a position that allowed him to get the treatment he needed to overcome the deadly disease, but he was also aware that many others, both receiving treatment alongside him and across the world, were not so lucky with their situation. It was during those moments that Rivera dedicated himself to becoming an advocate and ally for other cancer patients and survivors struggling to afford the proper care.
"After going through it and seeing just how expensive it is … you sit there and think, 'Gosh, how can people afford this that aren't in the situation or the position that I'm in?' " he said. "… I think that's really helped to shape my views, just saying and thinking to myself we need to have some sort of affordable care in the United States for everybody."
Rivera's donation is the latest example of him keeping up with that promise, and now patients at St. Jude are going to reap the benefits.