As an NFL player, Rolf Benirschke faced a battle on the field every Sunday. But more importantly, he fought his own personal battle with ulcerative colitis, ostomy surgery, and Hepatitis C—from his numerous blood transfusions. It nearly cost him his life. He emerged as a grateful patient, dedicating his life to patient advocacy. Rolf became passionate about encouraging research and innovation related to future therapies.
September 7, 1980, was Rolf’s improbable and nearly impossible comeback to the NFL after his illness. His two field goals and four extra points contributed to the Chargers 34-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks.
The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed National Grateful Patient Day in 2017 to be observed September 7th annually.