Most Georgia Southern fans and players were excited when they received the news that they would be heading to Orlando Florida to play in the Cure Bowl. Many players and fans were just happy for the opportunity to head to the sunshine state, but for others the Cure Bowl takes on a much deeper meaning.
The Cure Bowl was started in 2015, and is so named to promote awareness and research of breast cancer with proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Georgia Southern senior offensive lineman Jake Edwards was getting ready for Christmas three years ago, when his mother broke the news to him that she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It was a pretty tough time for all of us when we got that news,” Edwards said. “Going through chemotherapy and all she had to, really drained her. She couldn’t make it to many games, but when she did, it meant the world to me.”
“She fought through it and now only has a few minor health related problems,”Edwards said. “For the last game of my career to be playing in the Cure Bowl, which helps support people that have had breast cancer, and are battling it still is really special
“Any Bowl game is nice, but this one means a little more to guys like me,” Edwards said. “I love my mom to death, and I’d do anything in the work for her. To be able to go out there and represent her in this game is awesome.”
Edwards is not alone, as a couple of other Eagle teammates have gone through similar struggles. One Georgia Southern player that has been open and vocal in his mother’s battle with breast cancer is junior linebacker Rashad Byrd.
Byrd proudly wears a pink headband under his helmet during games and practices, in order to help bring awareness to breast cancer, and to remember the battle his mother won with the disease.
“I was the last one she told, I’m the baby boy of the family,” Byrd said. “I remember I cried my eyes out when I found out, and didn”t sleep all night.”
Byrd and his mother both found strength in their faith, which helped them get through the tough times together.
“She stayed strong in her faith, and I stayed strong in mine,” Byrd said. “I was with her the whole time, and it was just amazing to see how God works in mysterious ways. She was diagnosed with Stage 3-B which is really advanced, but God got her through it, and now she is able to share with others.”
One of the people Byrd has shared his story with is Arkansas State head coach Blake Anderson, who lost he wife Wendy to breast cancer earlier this year. Anderson sent a tweet after the Eagles played the Red Wolves this year thanking Byrd for their friendship.
“Me and my mom talk all the time about meeting people and making connections,” Byrd said. “It’s just going to be amazing to see how many people she will be able to reach out to and connect with and make an impact on this week.”
Byrd feels his mother may actually get as much, or more, out of the Cure Bowl than he will.
“My mother actually works with people who have breast cancer right now,” Byrd said. “It will be great for her to see some people who are going through it, and others that have survived it.”
“My mom does a great job of sharing with others,” Byrd said. “She’s been through it, she knows many people who have survived. She also knows many who have not, and the families that have had to deal with that.”
“She is going to have a great time in that atmosphere,” Byrd said. “And when we bring home the win, it’s going to be even better.”