Skip to main content

Dazzle & Dine: Chris Lindstrom and Jeff Okudah celebrate cancer survivors after losing family in similar battles

When Chris Lindstrom was named the Atlanta Falcons Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, he reacted to the news with letters read by those close to the offensive lineman. Among those was Mary Ramsaier-Kirk.

Lindstrom first became acquainted with Ramsaier-Kirk at the team's Dazzle & Dine event that celebrates women battling cancer and survivors who have also given back to their communities. The two were paired together. Ramsaier-Kirk was treated to a day of dazzle and dines Lindstrom and other teammates prepared hibachi for the women.

From there, the bond was formed. Lindstrom kept up with her fight, and Ramsaier-Kirk shared in honoring Lindstrom's community work.

In Ramsaier-Kirk's letter to Lindstrom, she said, "Thank you for making a difference in my life. And I'll explain why: last Tuesday my oncologist told us that I was cancer-free; any treatment moving forward would merely be precautionary measures."

Shortly after writing that letter, Ramsaier-Kirk was no longer in remission. A cancerous tumor grew despite the surgical efforts taken to eradicate the breast cancer. She died nearly six months later.

It's grief Lindstrom is familiar with. He lost his mother to ovarian cancer in 2021. He attended Ramsaier-Kirk's funeral to support her family because he understands that pain.

"To see the fight in the journey that these women are going through, our family can resonate so much," Lindstrom said. "Then, when you see just their faces light up with a special event that this is, I always just think of how much my mom would really enjoy an event like this."

Lindstrom and Ramsaier-Kirk at the Dazzle & Dine event in 2022.
Lindstrom and Ramsaier-Kirk at the Dazzle & Dine event in 2022.

When the event rolled around again this year, Lindstrom still felt drawn to participate.

"The really special thing was to hear the impact this event had in (Ramsaier-Kirk's) spirits," Lindstrom said. "When you come and do these events, you understand the meaning of it."

At the Mercedes-Benz Club, located in the stadium where the Falcons play home games, 10 more women were dazzled and dined on Tuesday. Players retired their hibachi skills to serve an already prepared dinner. Brisket and fish were on the menu while Lindstrom was on dessert duty, specifically a decadent peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream.

Like years past, the offensive lineman made another bond. This time with a stadium staffer, she even taught him a couple of new dance moves. Laughter, resiliency and pink balloons filled the room.


Jeff Okudah shares a heartbreaking tie to the cancer battle, like Lindstrom. Weeks before the Falcons cornerback started his college career at Ohio State, his mother died of lymphoma.

At first, Okudah wasn't connecting his mom's experience to the event, not until he heard their stories and what they had endured.

"It's hard to hear about some things that they go through, how many years they've been fighting for, and just seeing the optimism that they kept," Okudah said. "Truly, it was an experience that I won't forget."

Okudah also created some fun-loving memories. When he was introduced with his paired survivor, the two walked the pink carpet together and did a TikTok dance together. Okudah had seen it scrolling his "for you" page, and she was down to recreate the "twin we be vibin'" trend, to the tune of "Wassup GWay" by Famous Sally & YB.

After the players finished their culinary commitments, they swapped their chef hats for dinner plates and sat down with the survivors and their families creating memories that have transcended past dazzling and the dining.

"So many amazing, beautiful women in there who are fighters," Lindstrom said. "Hearing their different stories is truly remarkable."

The Atlanta Falcons hosted ten breast cancer survivors and fighters at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Tuesday night for their annual event Dazzle and Dine presented by Grady Health System. Dazzle and Dine honors those currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer, as well as breast cancer survivors for their continued effort in fighting against breast cancer. They received make-overs, were served their meal by current Atlanta Falcons players, and dined with Atlanta Falcons legends.

Related Content