Springfield grads hold fundraiser for former NFL player

SYLVANIA, OH (Toledo News Now) - A fundraiser was held Sunday in Sylvania to raise money to help a retired NFL star pay for thousands of dollars in chemotherapy and blood test bills.

Rick Upchurch is battling leukemia.

The event was organized by former classmates at Springfield High School after they learned of Mr. Upchurch's illness.  They say he's special to them.

"His persona, his personality, his spiritualism, his love of life, his love for God" said Nancy Baker Manera.

Mr. Upchurch played nine seasons in the NFL for the Denver Broncos.  He was a speed receiver and return specialist and was selected to four Pro Bowls.

Mr. Upchurch retired in 1983 and two years later, the NFL discontinued his health insurance. He now lives in Florida.

"Those expenses. You never realize what health care is all about until things start happening with you. This will help as far as my bills are concerned. They're going to be awful deep" said Upchurch. The fundraiser included food, a 50/50 raffle and silent auction.

His wife Donna says his prognosis is good. "Told by doctors he will always have leukemia and take chemo for the rest of his life. There may be a time when they can decrease it but he will have to take it the rest of his life."

But Rick Upchurch says the best medicine for him is being surrounded by friends.  "You know what?  You couldn't ask for any better friends than the folks that are here right now."

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