Rolf Benirschke, former Pro Bowl kicker for the San Diego Chargers, is teaming up with HundredX, a leading listening software and strategy company, to create the “The Grateful Patient Project.” All grateful patients and their families are encouraged to share their stories at www.gratefulpatient.org and join a community of fellow patients focused on expressing gratitude, creating positive outcomes, encouraging research and inspiring one another.
Benirschke led a very successful NFL career (’77-’86) and was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Hero of the Year, and Walter Payton Man of the Year. But despite all his athletic accolades, he is most proud of a distinction earned off the field. “The accomplishment that means the most to me has nothing to do with football,” said Benirschke, “It was surviving ulcerative colitis, ostomy surgery, and hepatitis C, and becoming a Grateful Patient.” After the fourth game of the 1979 season, Rolf underwent emergency surgery for ulcerative colitis. There were complications, he would require 80 units of blood, and a second surgery six days later in order to survive. The extraordinary therapies and care he received from dedicated medical professionals along with the support of his family, friends and fans was critical. “I simply would not be alive today without what they did for me,” said Benirschke. Following his NFL career, he co-founded Legacy Health Strategies, a patient support and engagement company, and dedicated his life to patient advocacy through speaking, promoting the need for ongoing medical research and innovation, and legislation that supports favorable patient outcomes.
The mission of the Grateful Patient Project is three-fold: 1.) Create a community of passionate patients who want to express gratitude to their doctors and nurses, families and friends, as well as the researchers and pharmaceutical and medical device companies who helped them survive and recover from often life-threatening medical challenges, 2.) Harness the collective voice of thousands of grateful patients to ensure that favorable patient outcomes remain at the forefront of company practices as well as state and national legislation and, 3.) Provide hope and inspiration by sharing the amazing “indomitable spirit” embodied by all kinds of patients facing all kinds of medical challenges.
To collect and manage these thousands of patient stories, Rolf at Legacy Health Strategies has partnered with HundredX, a company founded by another grateful patient. HundredX is dedicated to using technology to multiply positive outcomes, establish a culture of listening within organizations and encourage millions of front-line employees by name.
The Grateful Patient Project also recently established “Grateful Patient Day” which will be celebrated on September 7 each year starting in 2017. That date holds special significance for Rolf as it marked his emotional return to the field when he kicked two field goals and four extra points in the Chargers 34-13 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on September 7, 1980. “That was a day I will never forget,” said an emotional Benirschke, “After the difficult battle with my illness and subsequent surgeries, there was a time I was so worn out and discouraged I wondered if my life was worth fighting for anymore. I never imagined I would recover and be given a second chance to play the game I loved.”
Grateful patients are encouraged to visit gratefulpatient.org
to hear Rolf’s story, share their own stories, and be inspired by the amazing stories of fellow patients. Benirschke went on to say, “Our message to grateful patients, especially on September 7, is to pause and reflect on their lives and take a moment to thank the families, friends, doctors, nurses, researchers, and the companies who have been so important to their recovery at gratefulpatient.org
and send a note, email, make a phone call or post their message of gratitude on social media. #gratefulpatient