Patient Spotlight

About Rolf Benirschke

Rolf Benirschke’s third season as a placekicker in the NFL was cut short when he collapsed on a cross-country team flight while battling ulcerative colitis.  He would undergo two emergency surgeries within six days and his life would hang in the balance for the six weeks he remained in the intensive care unit.  After surviving, he made a miraculous comeback to play seven more seasons with the San Diego Chargers, becoming the first player ever to wear an ostomy bag in the NFL. He would earn numerous honors including being named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, NFL Comeback Player of the Year, play in the Pro Bowl and be inducted into the Chargers Hall of Fame.

Following his NFL career, Rolf became CEO of Legacy Health Strategies, a patient engagement company, and founded The Grateful Patient Project. He is now a respected leader and speaker in the health care industry and works tirelessly as a patient advocate who is active in supporting legislation that encourages research and innovation and protects patients.

Rolf enjoys working with organizations that have a heart for patients like UCSD Health, the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, San Diego Blood Bank, and numerous other charities. He takes time out of his busy schedule to connect personally with patients who need encouragement, especially those living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).

He is also the founder of the Rolf Benirschke Legacy Foundation and the author of three books, including his autobiography, Alive & Kicking.  Rolf has been married for 28 years to the love of his life, Mary, and they have four children, three of whom have special needs.