When Washington head coach Ron Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma back in August, not coaching this season was not an option. Although he knew there would be times when it wouldn't be easy, he pushed forward.
Last week was one of those times when the chemotherapy treatments took a toll on him. So the surprise at yesterday's game couldn't have been more timely.
With Rivera's wife Stephanie, Washington filled the (would've been empty) seats at FedEx Field with 450 cardboard cutouts of Rivera's family, friends and former coworkers in an area they named "Coach's Corner". Behind the cutouts was a banner reading "#RiveraStrong". The cutouts included his brother Mickey who passed after a battle with cancer in 2015. Also in attendance, cardboard style, was Rivera's mother. Later he said that it was her first time "watching" him as a head coach from inside the stadium as she doesn't like to hear people yelling at her son.
Prior to the game Rivera was lead to his "Coach's Corner" by his wife. Even through a mask and sunglasses, he is visibly surprised to see his fans. It is truly heartwarming.
Not only were the cutouts in the "Coach's Corner" there to support Rivera as he continues his fight with cancer, but also the proceeds from the $49 per cardboard fan went to the American Cancer Society.
Also featured yesterday were cutouts of women from the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, who were being honored as part of the "Crucial Catch" game. The Crucial Catch games are part of a joint initiative with the NFL and the American Cancer Society to bring awareness to cancer, cancer screenings and treatments.
In a tweet yesterday Rivera said 'Tremendous! Thanks to all for the surprise and the support. Back to work now...".
Rivera has 3 weeks left of his chemotherapy treatment and we know he will continue to be #RiveraStrong. We're praying for you.