Kimberly Ringen is preparing for her trip to the big game.(Photo: Jonathan Gonzalez, KUSA)
DENVER -- As the Denver Broncos prepare for Super Bowl 50, one of
their biggest fans back home is getting ready her first trip to the big game with maybe as much thought and intensity.
Kimberly Ringen, 38, is battling lung cancer, and has spent the last week or so meeting with her medical team to figure out how to make the trip as smooth and as safe as possible.
"Based off of having something to look forward to, my mental stamina has stayed so much stronger than maybe someone else," she said. "These last three weeks have been very challenging from a lung cancer standpoint."
Last month, Ringen successfully raised $22,000 for lung cancer -- more than anyone in the country -- as part of a national contest sponsored by the Chris Draft Family Foundation, named after the former NFL linebacker who lost his wife to the disease.
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Draft's wife and Ringen have something in common: they both contracted lung cancer despite being non-smokers.
"Anyone with lungs can get lung cancer and ultimately, nobody deserves lung cancer, regardless of anyone's lifestyle choices," Ringen said.
As a result of the contest, she earned a trip to the Super Bowl, but just having tickets doesn't mean the trip will be an easy one. She's spent the last week or so meticulously planning every part of the journey.
"My care team at the university and my family decided to go with a strong chemo-therapy agent and I went through that last week and I literally just turned the corner and the timing couldn't be any more perfect that I have a little bit improved lung function," Ringen said. "Prep-wise, there's a lot that goes into organizing the oxygen to show up, to carry your own machines and all the medications and stuff like that."
Half of the profits Ringen raised from the contest went to Draft's foundation, while the other half went to the charity of her choice: the Lung Cancer Colorado Fund -- a part of the CU Cancer Center.
When 9NEWS spoke with Ringen in the days before she won the contest -- weeks before the Broncos were in the big game -- she was asked about the chance of seeing her team when she goes to the Super Bowl.
"I'm going to the football game, I mean the Super Bowl -- you guys need to go with me!" she said.
Sure enough, the Broncos have held up their end of the deal.
"They've worked hard all year. Everybody has been a valuable player. It's not just a one man show," Ringen said. "Everybody. Everybody associated with the organization has pulled it through all of these hard games. We do not have an easy conference."
And Ringen does not have an easy battle.
"Big thing is going to be just making sure we kind of manage Kim's energy levels. You've met her. She's hard to reign back you know?" said Davin Ringen, Kimberly's husband. "The big part is making sure she's not expending too much energy and I don't want her to gas out before the weekend is up, for sure."
Good thing she's not short on energy.
"It will be absolutely worth it. It will be absolutely worth it," she said. "It would be awesome to have orange and blue confetti flying down on me when we win the Super Bowl. That's what I'm envisioning."
(© 2016 KUSA)