Zach's Story & The Tailgate
Zach's instructions to his family were very clear. Please continue to raise funds for the families like ours that need help and assistance to cope with childhood cancer. Zach had already established the Zach Ramsey Children's Cancer Fund with $1,000 of his own money. So now that he had passed, the challenge his family faced was to determine the best way to honor Zach's request in a manner that was consistent with who Zach was and how he had faced his own challenges the last three years of his life.
Zach's love of the Panthers was already well documented. The first year that Zach was sick he found a way to attend every home Panthers game - regardless of what treatments he had endured the previous week. He loved talking about that experience - walking into the stadium, being outside, surrounded by other fans, and feeling the excitement and energy that was in Bank of America Stadium as fans anticipated and hoped for a Panthers victory.
So when it came time for Zach to let Make A Wish know what he wanted for his wish he did not hesitate at all. Zach wanted season tickets to the Carolina Panthers. Zach wanted to be able to attend Panther games for the rest of his life. And Zach's wish was granted - he received two season tickets in section 310. But Zach's second season of attending home games was much more challenging. By the time the season started his disease had shown up for a second time, and his treatments were more rigorous. The physical toll on Zach was really beginning to show - but once again Zach attended every game - and when he returned home from those games he was always renewed and excited and ready to face whatever treatment and challenge might come his way the following week.
When the time came for his family to decide how best to keep their promise to Zach they considered many methods for fund raising - barbecue's, gala's, and balls, and special events of different sorts. But nothing felt appropriate. As Zach's mother continued to struggle with what to do, she kept thinking about Zach and what made him happy. She thought about his request and why the fund was set up - how Zach had told many people, "we just wanted to help". And she remembered Zach's love of the Panthers. She remembered that in its best form charity is simple and unpretentious. And lastly she remembered how important family and friends were to Zach. So what had been so elusive earlier - how to best honor Zach and help others - suddenly became very clear. Gather Zach's family and friends together to watch a Panthers game and at the same time find a way to help others.
The Give Back With Zach Tailgate was born - going forward, each and every year, those interested in helping would come together on the first away Panthers game to remember Zach, honor his request to continue to help other families, and root and cheer the Panthers on to a victory.