A bigger fight off the field

Published 7:07 AM ET, Thu January 2, 2014
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Florida State University head coach Jimbo Fisher will face Auburn University in the BCS National Championship game on January 6. But Fisher is fighting a tougher opponent off the field, in hopes of saving his 8-year-old son Ethan. Courtesy Fisher Family
Ethan has Fanconi Anemia, a rare blood disease that affects about 1 in 130,000 people. Fanconi Anemia prevents Ethan's body from producing healthy blood cells. The disease can cause many serious health problems, including leukemia and bone marrow failure. Courtesy Fisher Family
Fisher and his wife Candi created a foundation called Kidz1stFund to raise awareness and money for research about Fanconi Anemia. Courtesy Fisher Family
The Fishers do their best to let Ethan live a normal, active life. He and his brother Trey, 12, love football, basketball and baseball, as well as hunting and fishing with their dad. Courtesy Fisher Family
Fisher has used his position at Florida State to put the spotlight on Fanconi Anemia. "We thought, we can go private with this and keep it within," Fisher said, "or we can go out publicly and not only help Ethan, but help all those kids who don't have a voice -- whose dads aren't the head football coach." Courtesy Fisher Family
Football fans from around the country have shown their support for Fisher's cause. His players have joined the bone marrow registry to help other kids, and several coaches have stepped up to bring attention to Fanconi Anemia. Courtesy Fisher Family
So far, Kidz1stFund has raised more than $1.5 million for research at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital. "Sixteen years ago when I started, (bone marrow transplant) survival was 20%," says Dr. Margaret MacMillan, "Now it's 85%. In 16 years we've changed the outcome." Courtesy Fisher Family
The Fishers are optimistic about Ethan's future. They've met with other Fanconi Anemia patients through Kidz1stFund. "Those stories give us hope for Ethan that there is something we can do," says Candi. "There is a way to fix this, cure this." Courtesy Fisher Family