Reggie White died on December 26, 2004, at age 43 from a cardiac arrhythmia, which many believe was partly caused by his untreated sleep apnea. The football legend’s CPAP machine was found at his bedside – unused. As we mark the 10th anniversary of White’s death this week, his legacy foundation continues to help those in need manage their own sleep apnea.
Two years after White’s death, his wife Sara and the Wisconsin-based Sleep Wellness Institute cofounded the Reggie White Sleep Disorders Research & Education Foundation. The foundation “helps people of all economic backgrounds to understand the symptoms and risks” of sleep apnea, as well as provide donated CPAP equipment to those with a CPAP prescription who otherwise could not afford it.
Known by football fans as the “Minister of Defense,” Reggie White is one of the best defensive players in American football history. Drafted in the first round from the University of Tennessee, he played 15 seasons in the National Football League for the Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, was selected to 13 Pro Bowls, won Super Bowl XXXI with Green Bay in 1997, and was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame in 2006.
White actually earned his nickname at Tennessee when he became an ordained Baptist minister. He remained an outspoken religious figure until the end of his life, granting interviews on the subject and even starring in the 1996 fictional Christian film Reggie Knox.
In life, Reggie inspired whole communities with his generosity and devotion to community service. In death, he has inspired other NFL players like former teammate and close friend Aaron Taylor to get tested for sleep apnea, start and stick to CPAP treatment, and help spread awareness.
Since 2006, the Reggie White Foundation has sent CPAP machines to more than 300 people in need across America:
Millions of people have learned about the dangers of sleep apnea and the benefits of treating it since Reggie White’s death due to the efforts of this foundation and countless other organizations and advocates worldwide. We thank them all for spreading awareness, invite you all to do the same, and promise to keep doing our part in 2015 and beyond.
We wish you all a happy and healthy new year!
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