Chuckstrong Initiative

Thanks to you and Coach Pagano, no one fights alone

Even though Chuck Pagano is retired from coaching in the NFL, his captivating and resilient battle with leukemia continues to inspire us through his Chuckstrong initiative. This partnership with the Indianapolis Colts has generated $15.5 million for IU cancer research since 2013.

It all began shortly after Pagano, who was the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2012 to 2017, publicly shared his leukemia diagnosis in 2012. The Colts immediately sprang into action and launched the Chuckstrong initiative.

The initial sales of T-shirts and wristbands and other community efforts raised $486,000 all of which was designated for leukemia research. This funding was used by the IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center to recruit leukemia experts and purchase laboratory research equipment.

In succeeding years, annual Chuckstrong events have brought together hundreds of guests and sponsors to raise money for cancer research.

Chuckstrong funding is used to help recruit new researchers, provide seed money for researchers to launch new ideas, and purchase laboratory instruments to support innovative cancer research.

I am very humbled, very honored that our legacy will hopefully live a lot longer than Tina and I, and we will be able to help future researchers, doctors and scientists keep working and achieve our ultimate goal–to find a cure for all cancers.

Chuck Pagano–retired NFL coach and leukemia survivor

The Chuckstrong impact: New recruits, new equipment

In 2018, Rachel Katzenellenbogen, MD, joined IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center as the inaugural Chuck and Tina Pagano Scholar.

Dr. Katzenellenbogen – or Dr. K, as Coach calls her – studies the fundamental way human papillomavirus (HPV) drives cancer development and progression and is identifying ways to detect and disrupt these pathways to intervene early in treatment.

Rachel Katzenellenbogen, MD, demonstrating a REVOLVE microscope.

Whether it’s new faculty or new technology, IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center is stronger because of Coach Pagano and community support for the Chuckstrong initiative.


To learn more about the Chuckstrong initiative’s impact at IU Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, contact Ashleigh Wahl, assistant director of annual giving and strategic partnerships, at 317-274-7409 or


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