_ Update: Colts cheerleaders Megan and Crystal Ann both had their heads shaved by Colts mascot Blue during Sunday's game. Blue raised over $22,000 as part of the "Chuckstrong" fundraising effort in support of coach Chuck Pagano who is undergoing treatment for Leukemia. Hear from Megan this afternoon when she appears on HLN's Evening Express (5pET/2PT)._
Editor’s note: Carlos Diaz is a sports anchor on HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade.” He is a proud Colts fan and supporter of the ChuckStrong Challenge, a campaign to raise funds for leukemia research at Indiana University's Simon Cancer Center in honor of the Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano.
So I’m driving into work last week and my HLN sports producer tells me that we’re doing a story about an Indianapolis Colts cheerleader who has volunteered to shave her head if Colts fans raise $10,000 for cancer research.
My response: “Is her name Megan?”
“Yes!” shouted my producer. “How did you know that?!”
Here’s how I knew…
I met Megan 3-and-a-half years ago when she happily agreed to come support my annual charity golf tournament in my hometown just south of Indianapolis. She woke up at 5 a.m. to make it to the golf course in time to hit out the ceremonial first ball. That’s the kind of giving, caring person Megan truly is. I don’t want to reveal what Megan does for a living (when she's not cheering for the Colts), but let’s just say she spends hours and hours every day helping others who cannot help themselves. And she truly LOVES every minute of it.
So it came as no surprise to me when I heard Megan was the only Colts cheerleader who stepped up to answer a tweet from Blue, Indy’s mascot. Blue posted a $10,000 ChuckStrong Challenge on Twitter last week after dozens of Colts players shaved their heads in support of their head coach Chuck Pagano, who is away from the team battling leukemia.
Colts fans and even opposing players have been wearing “ChuckStrong” T-shirts to show their love for Pagano. The first-year head coach learned last month that he has a treatable form of leukemia. When he made a special appearance to address the team earlier this month after a win against the Dolphins, he announced that his cancer was “already beaten.” The following day, the Colts announced that Pagano’s leukemia was in remission. But he still had another round of chemotherapy to face that week. So several Colts players shaved their heads to show their support. No wonder so many guys on the team credit their current (and unexpected) playoff run to the inspiration their head coach has provided.
And now Megan plans to inspire a whole different group of heroes.
When I called Megan to ask her “What are you thinking?!” she simply laughed and revealed to me that the Colts have already arranged for her to visit several children’s hospitals in the Indianapolis area to show kids that you don’t need hair to be beautiful.
And as beautiful as Megan is on the outside, she’s even more beautiful on the inside.
I am honored to be a Hoosier… I am proud to be a Colts fan… and I am humbled that I get to call Megan my friend.
If you would like to donate, please visit: Colts.com/ChuckStrong.
All the money raised will benefit leukemia research at Indiana University's Simon Cancer Center in honor of Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.