Foundation News

Gridiron Greats Names Chanda Brigance Woman of the Year

chanda collage
Chanda Brigance, Co-Founder of the Brigance Brigade Foundation, has been named the 2016 Sylvia Mackey Woman of the Year Award recipient! The award was presented at Mike Ditka’s Gridiron Greats Hall of Fame Dinner during the annual Hall of Fame Weekend being held in Las Vegas from June 3 – 4.

The Sylvia Mackey Woman of the Year Award is presented to a strong and inspirational woman caring for not only her loved ones who are going through a difficult situation or disease, but also others experiencing the same journey.

Chanda Brigance is the wife of retired NFL player O.J. Brigance, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2007. After seeing first-hand the amount of emotional, physical and financial resources that are needed to simply live each day with ALS, Chanda and O.J. knew they wanted to help others in their situation. Together in 2008, they created the Brigance Brigade Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission it is to equip, encourage and empower people living with ALS by providing access to needed equipment, resource guidance, and support services.

“I am so grateful to Mike Ditka, Sylvia Mackey, and everyone at the Gridiron Greats organization, for selecting me for this wonderful recognition,” said Chanda Brigance, Co-Founder of the Brigance Brigade Foundation. “It is such an honor to join the ranks of powerful and inspiring women like Sylvia Mackey and Chie Smith. Caring for my husband when he was diagnosed with ALS was never a question, it is what you do for the people you love, but being able to expand our work to touch other families in our situation has been such a blessing. The strength and love we see in all those battling the disease, as well as those supporting our fight against it, is incredibly overwhelming and provides hope.”

In an effort to provide greater support for families battling ALS, Chanda recently launched a new program within the Brigance Brigade Foundation called Chanda’s Caregiver Corner. Chanda’s Caregiver Corner will provide a platform for ALS caregivers to receive support, share their experiences, and hear from other individuals facing similar situations. By creating this program, Chanda wanted to create a space for caregivers to feel loved and supported while being connected with people in the region they could lean on for advice, questions and best practices.

The Woman of the Year honor was presented to Chanda Brigance by the award’s namesake, Sylvia Mackey. Sylvia’s efforts and advocacy on behalf of her husband, Hall of Fame tight end John Mackey, and frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the disease he suffered from, resulted in the creation of the 88 Plan by the NFL. The plan assists retired players suffering from Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.

The Sylvia Mackey Woman of the Year Award is presented by the Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund. The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund provides financial grants and ‘pro bono’ medical assistance to retired NFL players in dire need. The organization focuses on the humanitarian side of post-football related issues, which include coordination of social services to retired players who are in need due to a variety of reasons including inadequate disability and/or pensions.

See a photo album from the event here!