The Quince Orchard football program has produced a lot of household names over the years, but it is safe to say that none are bigger, both in stature and reputation, than Zach Kerr. Kerr was a standout defensive lineman for QO, graduating in 2008 with a state championship ring. He went on to play at the University of Maryland before finishing his collegiate career at the University of Delaware. His next stop landed him in Indianapolis signing with the Colts, and he had an impressive rookie year.
Kerr now resides in Denver in his second year with the Broncos, where he fits in nicely with one of the toughest defenses in the NFL. Most Montgomery County football fans are aware of the great success Kerr has had between the sidelines, but recently, he has taken on a new opponent.
Kerr’s mother suffers from sarcoidosis, a condition that results from a specific type of inflammation of tissues in the body. The inflammatory disease can affect different areas including the eyes, skin, lymph nodes, and most commonly, the lungs. Kerr’s mother has been battling this rare condition for years. Sarcoidosis currently has no cure, but it may get better after proper treatment.
Dealing with sarcoidosis has been a long road for mother and son. “It has changed me simply because the person who birthed me has been diagnosed for years,” he said. “As a player it makes me more conscious of my health, especially since there still isn’t a clue of where this condition comes from. So, I’m just extra conscious of my lifestyle.”
This past year, Kerr became the spokesperson for the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research (FSR), a community trying to raise awareness about the rare condition as well as pave the way for a possible cure. “I have always wanted to figure out a way to help my mom and her condition,” Kerr said, “I just didn’t know how to execute.” Kerr reached out to the Brand Architects, a group designed to help people and companies brand themselves or their product, who helped put Kerr in contact with the FSR.
“When we reached out to FSR, they were excited that I would even want to come on board with helping raise awareness,” Kerr said. “They heard our story and the rest is history.”
While his mother’s experience inspired Kerr to reach out to FSR, his position as an NFL player created the imperative. Kerr is a now seasoned NFL player with multiple years under his belt, and he feels that comes with great responsibility. He noted that “one of those responsibilities being an NFL player, whether we are comfortable with it or not, is giving back to the community and those less fortunate than us. I know growing up myself I didn’t have that. That’s why I feel I have to use my platform, not to show people that they have to play in the NFL to be successful, but to show them that if someone that’s comes from where they are from is successful, you can be too.”
Raising awareness is Kerr’s number one goal right now. He recently teamed up with an organization called “No Line No Shine” to produce the appropriately named “Zach Kerr Sacking Sarcoidosis” shirts, with all proceeds going to sarcoidosis research. Kerr has been on the NFL Network, 9 News, and CBS to speak about his efforts alongside FSR.
Kerr has come a long way from the Cougar Dome of Quince Orchard. He continues to be an inspiration and example of excellence in character both on and off the gridiron.