Fisher family raises $1.8 million to fight Fanconi anemia

Ethan Fisher (left), the youngest of Jimbo Fisher's two sons, was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia in the spring of 2011.

Melina Vastola

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Jimbo and Candi Fisher vowed in August 2011 to fight Fanconi anemia.

But they continue to be amazed by the overwhelming support from the community as they fight the disease that affects one of their sons, 8-year-old Ethan.

"It tells a lot about the people in this community, how much they care and how much they want to help," Fisher said. "Candi and I are extremely thankful."

Ethan was diagnosed with Fanconi anemia in the spring of 2011. Fanconi anemia is a rare blood disease that causes birth defects, bone marrow failure and eventually leads to cancer years earlier than the general population.

Ethan is healthy and active now. But nearly every person with Fanconi anemia will have a decline in blood counts over time, leading to bone-marrow failure and the need for a bone-marrow transplant. The Fishers’ oldest son, Trey, was tested but was not a match as a bone-marrow donor for Ethan.

There is no cure for Fanconi anemia, but Jimbo Fisher said that researchers are "making tremendous progress" toward finding a cure.

The Fisher family established the Kidz 1st Fund — http://www.kidz1stfund.com — which has donated money to the Fanconi Anemia Comprehensive Care Clinic at the University of Minnesota. Candi Fisher said that the fund has donated $1.8 million since it was lauched, helping to double the clinic’s annual budget.

”When I started working at it on my dining room table, I was just praying that we could make a small difference and bring some awareness,” Candi Fisher told FOX Sports Florida. ”I thought, ‘Gosh, if we could just do $100,000.’ ”

But the fund has done far more than that. And the Fishers set up two events this week aimed both at fund-raising and awareness.

Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden led a rally in support on Thursday at the school’s student union, signing autographs with the funds going to Kidz 1st. And he also helped encourage people to join the Be The Match registry. A simple cheek swab adds people to a national database and could one day help someone in need of a bone marrow transplant.

And the Fight for a Cure 5K run will be held on Saturday at 9 a.m., starting at Doak Campbell Stadium and winding through campus before returning to Doak. Runners can register online for $20, which includes a t-shirt.

Candi Fisher said it’s been a challenge to speak publicly about Fanconi anemia but that the family felt a need to be active.

”It hasn’t been easy to have everyone talk about the struggles but we knew when Ethan was diagnosed we had a responsibility,” she said. ”We felt like we were given this disease for a reason.”

You can follow Bob Ferrante on Twitter @bobferrante or email him at bobferrante17@gmail.com.