Ravens players join PNC banker Sean Hull to fight Sarcoidosis

As a PNC banker by day and a college basketball official by night, Ellicott City resident Sean Hull performs a diversity of tasks. The most purposeful is his role as founder and president of the Life and Breath Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for Sarcoidosis – the disease that took his mother’s life.

One  in every 2,000 Americans has Sarcoidosis, a lung disease that affects tissues throughout the body. It claimed the lives of Hall of Fame football player Reggie White and comedian Bernie Mac.

After watching his mother battle the disease for more than 13 years, Hull decided he wanted to help support, guide and inform the many individuals suffering from the disease.

“I wanted to raise awareness, but beyond that I wanted to raise funds that would directly further research efforts,” he said.

Sean Hull is determined to find a cure for Sarcoidosis, a disease that took his mother’s life. Hull (center) poses for a photo surrounded by supporters. (Courtesy photo)

Hull was able to build an impressive contact list through his jobs as a banker and basketball official. He met former Ravens, Redskins and Colts through his golf tournament – Drive for the Cure – and became friendly with University of Maryland coach Gary Williams and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Those connections allowed Hull to reach out and ask athletes to utilize their celebrity status for the betterment of the Life and Breath Foundation.

He came up with the idea to create Flip-Flop Festivus, a casual evening affair that featured past and present Ravens including Qadry Ismail, Brad Jackson, Michael McCrary, Ed Mulitalo, Mike Flynn, Ed Reed, Jonathan Ogden, Kyle Richardson and Benny Thompson.

The event became known as “Baltimore’s best football party.”

“Festivus is synonymous with the Ravens winning the Superbowl,” Hull said. “We wanted to create something different than the black-tie, business events. In my mind, one of the happiest times is when you’re out and your significant other has a sundress on. We wanted the celebration to be casual and a good time.”

The Life and Breath Foundation will present the 4th annual Flip-Flop Festivus on Saturday, Sept.22, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Harbor East, one night before the Ravens take on the New England Patriots. The fundraiser will allow guests to mingle with professional athletes, enjoy catered food and cocktails, music, raffles, and a live auction featuring sports and travel packages.

Ismail, Jackson and Matt Stover also will be honored for their long-time community outreach efforts on behalf the Life and Breath Foundation.

“As professional athletes, these guys were great on the field,” Hull said. “But they’ve also served a large role in the community. Lending their names to the organization and the cause gives us credibility. They can be a voice to get people to stop and listen.”

A friend of the great Reggie White, Jackson wanted to help find the cure for Sarcoidosis, which took the former Green Bay Packer’s life. (Courtey Photo)

Jackson met Hull during his days playing college basketball and with mutual friends, the two maintained a friendship. Jackson says he takes pride in helping the Foundation.

“I knew Reggie White and when he passed away, my reaction was ‘wow, what is this disease,’” Jackson said. “I knew about Sean’s mother and when I found out about Life and Breath, I started getting other business people involved to help this charity.

“This will probably be the biggest turnout we’ve ever had for Festivus,” Jackson added. “It’s a great time and what makes it unique is that it’s almost like being on vacation at a resort. It has the feel of not being a charity event because people aren’t showing up in a shirt and tie. They’re wearing shorts and flip-flops and really just enjoying themselves.”

Since its inception in 1998, Life and Breath has donated $105,000 to the Johns Hopkins University and the research efforts of Professor Dr. David Moller, whose team is on the cusp of creating a blood test to diagnose Sarcoidosis.

If successful, the research would yield the first non-invasive diagnostic test for the disease. Currently, Sarcoidosis is only diagnosed through biopsy. Because of reduced NIH funding, the Sarcoidosis research efforts require significant philanthropic support to move forward.

“Some physicians are not familiar with the disease and it gets misdiagnosed,” said Hull. “One of our goals is to determine why it gets misdiagnosed.

“We want to raise awareness and find a cure,” added Hull. “We want to put the flag in the ground and hoist it as high as possible.”

For tickets to Flip-Flop Festivus or for more information, check out the website or call 1-866-4SUPPRT or 410-750-8808.