Breaking News
More () »

A former NFL player is on a mission to stop cancer after losing his mother to Glioblastoma

He’s now raising money for more resources to make sure other families don’t have to face a cancer diagnosis.

PHOENIX — Michael Dritlein is no stranger to mental and physical toughness after his time playing in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. He said while he experienced plenty while playing, nothing prepared him for the pain of losing his mother, Claudia, to Glioblastoma.

“Losing my mom is a pain I don't want anybody to have to experience,” said Dritlein.

His mother was diagnosed with Glioblastoma in 2022 and she passed away a short six-months later. For Dritlein, the final months with his mother were too short and he’s fighting to make sure other families don’t have to face that reality.

He’s now on a mission to raise money for more resources to make sure other families don’t have to face a cancer diagnosis.

“We can beat cancer and we can do it sooner so less people have to experience the pain or have the unfortunate event of losing their mother, family or their friends,” he shared.

This September, Dritlein is cycling in honor of his mother in the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer (C2C4C) ride.

He calls Peoria home and has been training across Arizona for the monumental feat. He said the miles he cycles is nothing in comparison to what cancer patients and their families face.

“It’s tough out there in the heat. It’s challenging, but you keep thinking about the patients and the things they have to go through. I think about the pain that I had with the loss of my mother, it gives you all more of a purpose,” said Dritlein.

C2C4C is cross-country journey, more than 3,000 miles, where different teams will tackle segments until they reach New Jersey in October. Dritlein is kicking off the journey in Cannon Beach, Oregon, and traveling 85 miles a day for three days until his team reaches Bend, Oregon.

“The time on the bike is very therapeutic,” said Dritlein, “It’s an opportunity for me to reach deep into my soul, to get over emotions I’ve had with my mom and the loss and the changes that have occurred within my family because of it,” he added.

Dritlein is joining more than 126 fellow Bristol Myers Squibb employees as they celebrate a decade of the Coast 2 Coast 4 Cancer journey. He shared each member has a connection to cancer and they all have a “why” for getting on their bikes.

The money raised will support the V Foundation for cancer research. Dritlein’s company, Bristol Myers Squibb, is matching every donation, dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000.

You can donate to his efforts by visiting his online campaign page.

>> Download the 12News app for the latest local breaking news straight to your phone.

12News on YouTube

Catch up on the latest news and stories on the 12News YouTube channel. Subscribe today.

Before You Leave, Check This Out