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Denver Bronco Battles Complex Disease For Mom And Others

By Kathy Walsh

(CBS4) - A Denver Bronco is determined to help thousands battling a disease you don't often hear about. Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that usually affects the lungs. Anyone can get it.

For Broncos defensive lineman Zach Kerr, finding a cure is personal.

Denver Broncos defensive lineman Zach Kerr (credit: CBS)

"I'm trying to be the best Zach I can be everyday," Kerr told CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh.

For the Bronco that means doing damage on defense. He's a force on the football field.

Green Bay Packers v Denver Broncos
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 26: Defensive lineman Zach Kerr #92 of the Denver Broncos is helped off the field by the training staff in the first quarter during a Preseason game against the Green Bay Packers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on August 26, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

"I find something that makes me angry about the person across from me and then I just kind of try to let it all out," Kerr explained.

Not so at home. With wife, Iris, and 8-month-old Enzo, Kerr is a devoted husband and dad.

(credit: CBS)

"He's our little ball of joy for the whole entire family," said Kerr.

That includes Kerr's mother, Tinya, also known as Noni.

(credit: CBS)

"I am the biggest momma's boy in the world," said the 334-pound football player.

(credit: Kerr Family)

So it's been especially hard for Kerr to watch his mother battle what's called sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease where immune system cells clump together in an organ.

(credit: CBS)

"Hers is attacking her lungs, her respiratory system. One day it's okay. The next day she's inflamed and needs to be on a breathing machine," said Kerr.

(credit: Kerr Family)

He said he worries about her all the time.

(credit: CBS)

But Kerr has turned anxiety into action. He is the national spokesperson for the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. The rate of the disease is higher among African-Americans. Kerr wants to promote awareness.

New York Jets v Denver Broncos
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 10: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos and defensive lineman Zach Kerr #92 of the Denver Broncos stand on the field during pre-game before taking on the New York Jets at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on December 10, 2017 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

"I just want sarcoidosis to be one of those things that people are fighting for," Kerr said.

kathy zach kerr
(credit: Kathy Walsh)

Kerr wants people fighting to find a cure.

LINK: Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research

Kathy Walsh is CBS4's Weekend Anchor and Health Specialist. She has been with CBS4 since 1984. She is always open to story ideas. Follow Kathy on Twitter @WalshCBS4.

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