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Titans Coach's legacy serves up hope for Tennessee cancer patients

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Many people have someone in their lives who's been touched by cancer.

Many Tennesseans remember Titans' Assistant Coach Mike Heimerdinger or 'Dinger.' His legacy left behind after he lost a battle to cancer is preserved by the woman who married him. His wife Kathie makes sure his legacy off-the-field is doing more for people than football ever could.

Coach Dinger fought cancer with the same fire seen on the Titans' football field. His wife Kathie Heimerdinger said she can remember when Dinger was first diagnosed.

They tried everything modern medicine and alternative medicine could offer. The two, married for 35 years, knew they had to make changes. Those changes started in the kitchen.

“All of these healing foods, whole foods are packed full of nutrients and vitamins and minerals his body would need while he was going through these treatments," Kathie Heimerdinger said.

She researched the recipes, called the experts, experimented, cooked and cooked some more. For more than two years she perfected the anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, cancer-starving, pro healing, organic diet.

She did this first for her beloved husband and now for thousands more. She feeds Tennessee cancer patients weekly to honor him.

“The fact that so much good came out of a tragedy, and she just totally turned it around to benefit so many other people is just an amazing gift," said Ashley Anderson, a Franklin High School volunteer.

Meals 4 Health and Healing is all paid for through the Heimerdinger Foundation. Volunteers prepare the food.

Many of them are cancer patients too, like Lori Ryden, who’s fighting lung cancer.

“I have learned as a culture we are creating disease through nutrition and poor health habits, and it's time we are taught differently," Ryden said.

Kathie Heimerdinger delivered the first meal in 2013. Since then, her organization has delivered more 40,000 meals.

“What created out of our loss and tragedy has turned out to be a wonderful gift and a blessing to so many other people," Heimerdinger said.

Delivery angels like Will Hughes pick up the food and drive it to the cancer patients. Hughes lost his father to cancer and says what Kathie Heimerdinger is doing is brave and bold.

“Helping take care of your body first, and that's something Kathie Heimerdinger figured out early on," Hughes said.

On this day, he's delivering to Jim Carson, who has stage four inoperable esophageal cancer.

“Fast food I've lived on the road for 40 years doing rock and country," Carson said. "It's just a completely different world I live in right now."

“We want to make sure every single container that goes out of that kitchen it is packed full of goodness," Heimerdinger said. "When the client opens it and sees the food prepared for them, it’s like a little present from us to them.”

Three-time cancer survivor Martha Lingley said knowing the difference proper food can make would have helped her immensely during treatment and after.

“I'm 4 years out now and so far every scan has been clear," Lingley said. "I'm on no medication. It’s just hope.”

The coach's wife with a big heart for others has no plans now to ever stop cooking up hope in Dinger's memory.

“I still think he's going to be walking through a door after a game, but it has become my life and it has brought me joy,” Heimerdinger said.

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To get help for someone through 'Meals 4 Health and Healing’ or to volunteer or play in the ‘Drive for Dinger’ celebrity golf tournament and fundraiser on Friday June 16, Follow this link.

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