When he walks around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Matt Higgins doesn't seem like your typical business executive. From the comfortable, fun way that he carries himself to the utilization of his favorite toy — his Twitter account — Higgins is a boss that makes the work environment enjoyable.
That's why it was a no-brainer for Jets defensive starters Darrelle Revis and Mike DeVito to join the team's executive vice president at the Bowery Hotel in New York City on Monday night for the eighth annual Craig D. Tifford Foundation Gala to support those who have testicular cancer.
Higgins survived his own battle with testicular cancer three years ago, and now has dedicated himself to raising awareness about the disease that afflicts about 7,000 men between the ages of 18 and 35 every year. the Tifford Foundation raised $150,000 to help fund cutting-edge technology, support for patients and families, and education and awareness programs. In addition, the event prompted men not to be ashamed to approach their doctors if they think they have a problem.
The mission of the Tifford Foundation falls in line with Higgins' personal philosophy.
"If there's a purpose to ever getting sick, for me it would be that I have the opportunity to reach young men that are mostly the victims of this kind of cancer," Higgins said. "I work for a sports team so I've always felt that I have an obligation to be as public and as open about every embarrassing detail that I can to get people's attention and to hopefully save somebody's life out there or make them know that it's probably going to be OK."
During the event, Revis and DeVito moved throughout the room and met with the attendees, who bid on auction items from many of New York's professional sports teams, including the Yankees. In addition, a private bike ride with testicular cancer survivor Lance Armstrong was auctioned off for $7,000.
Higgins mentioned DeVito's impact during the evening. And of Revis he said, "Darrelle's great. He's always doing something in the community. Really, I think he was moved by the event because he spent time talking to pretty much every single person in the room. He was the last person to leave."
Higgins had plenty to learn about the disease when he was diagnosed, and now he wants to make sure that others with the disease are fully informed. For example, treatmentf can cause infertility, so it is wise for patients to visit a fertility treatment before surgery and radiation if they desire to have children after they conquer the disease.
"Know your body and trust your instincts," Higgins advised. "When something happens to you, you'll know the difference between a bruise and something that's more serious. If it's the latter category, do something about it because it's a fast-growing cancer."
Higgins, who was New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's former press secretary and helped led the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation after 9/11, always tries to make an impact in the community around him. From his partnership with the Tifford Foundation and testicular cancer awareness advocacy to having impromptu meetings with players and staff to come up with new and exciting ideas, he is perpetually trying to make a difference.
"Really my hope is just that anybody reading this is motivated to just take 10 seconds to check themselves," Higgins said. "Or if someone is experiencing what I went through, to know that there's light at the end of the tunnel and that you can get through it and you will get through it. If you want to reach out to me, talk to me on Twitter at @mhigginsjets.