Press Release from the Orange Bowl & the Football Writers Association of America
Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson is this week's nominee for the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage Award. Anderson, the sixth-year Red Wolves head coach, lost his wife, Wendy, on Aug. 19 after a two-year battle with breast cancer. He returned to the sidelines on Sept. 7 for his team’s game at UNLV.
“It’s impossible to adequately say thank you to so many amazing people who both energized Wendy’s fight and who now are carrying me and our kids daily through prayer, texts, hugs, cards, food and so much more,” Anderson said in a statement on Sept. 2. “I apologize for the crudeness of this attempt to say it, but with so many people to reach out to, it seems the only way to even come close.”
Wendy Anderson was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer in the spring of 2017, and the cancer was located in a spot where doctors could not operate. After undergoing a natural treatment approach, Wendy had surgery late that summer, and she was declared cancer-free Aug. 31, 2017. But the cancer returned in the fall of 2018 at Stage 4, and her condition worsened in the ensuing months. She had surgery in January to relieve the pressure of five large masses in her brain. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy, and she became oxygen-dependent 24 hours a day.
Blake, who had three kids with Wendy, took a leave of absence from the Red Wolves just before Wendy died. In Blake’s second game back, in Athens, Ga., thousands of Bulldogs fans wore pink to honor Wendy.
“One of the classiest moves I’ve ever seen,” Anderson told reporters after the game. “Hard to truly prepare for something like that. So I would say thank you to all those who showed up today wearing pink or thinking pink. They don’t know my wife, they don’t know me and they didn’t have to do it.”
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster or living through hardship. The winner of the award will be included in festivities during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an on-field presentation.