Who We Are
While working in the front office of the Baltimore Ravens in 2007, mentoring players and helping them shape their lives and careers through good decision making, O.J. Brigance was playing racquetball and discovered a change in his right arm. After meeting with multiple doctors, O.J. and his wife Chanda received their diagnosis…amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS.
After taking their own personal time, and tears, to cope with the news, it was O.J. and Chanda’s faith that helped them find the strength to stand up, accept this was their path, and decide the disease would not define them. The outpouring of love, support and encouragement was overwhelming, and the Brigances knew they were lucky to have such a support system.
After experiencing the emotional, physical and financial resources it takes to simply live each day with ALS, O.J. and Chanda made a decision that would change their lives once more, in 2008 the couple created the Brigance Brigade Foundation to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS.
While the ultimate goal is a world without ALS, there are people who need help now. It is the understanding of that need that fuels the Brigance Brigade Foundation because together, All Things are Possible.
O.J. Brigance was born on September 29, 1969 in Houston, Texas. He played college football at Rice University where he was a two-time All-Southwest Conference linebacker, and still holds the school’s title for career leader in tackles. O.J. began his professional career in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the B.C. Lions in 1991, followed by two seasons with the Baltimore Stallions, where he was an All Pro in 1995 and helped win the Grey Cup championship.
O.J. began a 7 year career in the National Football League (NFL) by calling each of the teams himself until he received a ‘yes’ from the Miami Dolphins. Throughout his professional football career, O.J. played with the Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens, St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots; he made the first tackle of Super Bowl XXXV, helping the Ravens go on to victory.
Throughout his life, O.J. has remained focused on helping others. He has been involved in a number of different community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and the Daily Food Bank, and was honored with the NFLPA’s Unsung Hero award in 1999 as well as receiving the Ed Block Courage Award in 2007. Most recently, O.J. was presented with Rice University’s 2012 Distinguished Alumni award, the PFWA’s 2014 George Halas Award, named a 2015 Influential Marylander by The Daily Record, and was honored as a 2016 NCAA Inspiration Award winner.
After retiring from the NFL, Brigance returned to the Baltimore Ravens as the Director of Player Development. Since 2010, Brigance has been the Senior Advisor to Player Engagement, a role he continues to fill today.
In 2007, after experiencing a numbness in his arm while playing racquetball, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS. Determined to continue to live his life to the fullest, and help others do the same, O.J. and his wife Chanda created the Brigance Brigade Foundation in 2008.
A native of Houston, Texas, Chanda Brigance graduated from Texas Southern University with a B.A. in Business Management. After college, Chanda taught first grade for the Arch Diocese in Texas before marrying O.J. Brigance. Once they settled in Baltimore, Chanda managed special events including organizing initiatives and programs for Baltimore Ravens players, wives, coaches and front office staff.
A certified Professional Event Planner, Chanda founded her own events management and design company – Crowning Creations, LLC. Chanda was also a team leader with her church’s Hospitality Ministry.
Most recently, Chanda created the Brigance Brigade Foundation with her husband O.J. and has been focused on helping patients with ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) and their families, while also raising awareness about the disease across the country.
Chanda’s Caregiver Corner, a program within the Brigance Brigade Foundation, was spearheaded by Chanda and created out of her own experience being a caregiver, and her desire to support other ALS caregivers in her situation. Today, caregivers from many states are involved in the Caregiver Corner and regularly write in to express their thanks to Chanda for being a beacon of hope, and for working to raise awareness about being a caregiver of someone living with ALS.
Chanda serves as Vice Chairperson of the Brigance Brigade Foundation Board of Directors. She and her husband have raised well over $1 million for the fight against ALS since they were diagnosed with the disease in 2007. In 2016, Chanda was honored as the GridIron Greats Woman of the Year for her work with the ALS community (watch Chanda’s honor here at 1:42:35).
Board of Directors
O.J. Brigance, Chairman
Co-Founder, Brigance Brigade Foundation
Chanda Brigance, Vice Chairman
Co-Founder, Brigance Brigade Foundation
Dawn Lichtenberg, Secretary
Director of Operations in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Mercy Medical Center
Anna Vitale Lybrook, Treasurer
Shareholder, Stoy, Malone & Company, PC
Advertising, Marketing & Customer Service Representative at Tim’s Automotive Services
Andreas T. Dailey, Sr.
Financial Professional, Prudential Financial, Inc.
Senior Associate Athletic Director, Strategic Communications, Towson University
Founder, Chesapeake Wealth Concepts
Vice President, Risk Management Services, MedStar Health
Promotions Director, 98 Rock & WBAL Radio
Gary S. Williams
President, Williams Asset Management
Senator Francis Kelly, Emeritus Member
Former Maryland State Senator & current Chairman of Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, Inc.
Francis X. Kelly III, Emeritus Member
Chief Executive Officer, Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, Inc.