The Boomer Esiason Foundation (BEF) recently announced the release of a new documentary, “Up For Air,” premiering on June 20 at a private screening in New York City. BEF is a partnership of leaders in the medical and business communities with a committed core of volunteers dedicated to raising awareness, education, and quality of life for people with cystic fibrosis (CF).
The documentary’s focus is Jerry Cahill, a 59-year-old pole-vaulting coach living with CF, and his experiences before and after a double-lung transplant. Cahill attributes having lived more than 20 years past his nominal life expectancy to a dedicated approach to physical fitness combined with medical treatment.
A well-respected ambassador for the CF community, Cahill leads BEF’s scholarship and grants division and its founding of additional outreach programs, such as You Cannot Fail and Team Boomer, one of BEF’s programs achieving the most impact, encouraging exercise among cystic fibrosis patients while raising money for scholarships.
Cahill is the creative force behind You Cannot Fail, which includes apparel, a website, an autobiographical coffee table book, and two children’s books. On top of all of this, he records Jerry Cahill’s CF Wind Sprints, a series of educational podcasts and videos, and encourages other people with cystic fibrosis to share their stories on Club CF. He has also completed two 500-mile Bike to Breathe bike tours.
“Up For Air,” directed and produced by Artem Agafonov, and shot over a period of five years, highlights Cahill’s “lead by example” philosophy and “you cannot fail” determination as he overcomes daily challenges of living with cystic fibrosis. Viewers are shown the importance of Cahill’s professional role as a coach and mentor to his pole-vaulting athletes, juxtaposed with the sobering reality of the daily medical regimen he is obliged to follow, involving pills, intravenous therapies, respiratory treatments, and airway clearance.
The documentary also follows the steady decline of Cahill’s lung function over five years, portraying his body as a “defective machine” and time as his ultimate antagonist. When Cahill’s lung capacity decreases to 19 percent and a double lung transplant is suggested, “Up For Air” accompanied him on the journey as he negotiates the many obstacles of this next chapter of his life. At 59 years old, Cahill overcame remarkable odds and is living, breathing proof that people with cystic fibrosis can have a normal lifespan through a firm commitment to exercise and medical compliance.
“Jerry continues to inspire and empower not only the CF community, but also everyone he meets in life. The ‘Up For Air’ documentary showcases his relentless approach to life that is bound to motivate film watchers,” Boomer Esiason, BEF founder and former NFL quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals and the New York Jets, said in a press release. Esiason’s son Gunnar is living with CF.
In 1993, when Gunnar was diagnosed with the disease, Esiason and his wife Cheryl launched the Boomer Esiason Foundation.
The “Up For Air” film’s June 20 premiere will screen at the New York Institute of Technology Auditorium, with filmmakers, cast members, and BEF employees in attendance. The program will also include a post-screening panel discussion with Cahill and Agafonov.
A second screening will be held on Cahill’s 60th birthday on June 27 at the Kendall Square Cinema in Boston. A third showing is planned for Sept. 19 at the New People Cinema in San Francisco.
“I am honored and excited to share my story. One of my life passions is to help people find their inner hero. Everyone faces hard times, and I truly hope viewers of ‘Up For Air’ will feel encouraged to face each obstacle with strength and courage,” Cahill said, adding he wanted to thank the Boomer Esiason Foundation, director Agafonov, and the sponsors of the film for their belief in the cause.
Organizations interested in hosting a screening of the documentary can contact Christopher McEwan at [email protected] The full documentary will be available online in early 2017. To access and view the trailer for the film visit:
Sponsors of “Up For Air” include several major pharmaceutical companies and hospitals. To donate to BEF, visit http://bit.ly/UpForAir. Donations will support CF research and education, scholarships, and transplant grants.
Cystic fibrosis, a chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide), is caused by a defective gene and its protein product that make the body produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs and leads to life-threatening lung infections. The mucus also obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.