Panther Tracks

Panthers coach Ron Rivera will be honorary starter of 5K Saturday in memory of brother

Ron Rivera at the 2015 PurpleStride race
Ron Rivera at the 2015 PurpleStride race Courtesy of Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

For the second year in a row, Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera will be the honorary starter in a Charlotte 5K run/walk Saturday that supports research on pancreatic cancer, the disease that took his older brother’s life last summer.

Mickey Rivera, 56, was three years older than Ron, and lived with his family in Reno, Nev. He watched every Panthers game on TV after his younger brother got the job in 2011. In late 2013, Mickey was diagnosed with Stage II pancreatic cancer, which has the lowest five year survival of any major cancer.

The younger Rivera has said even during his brother’s chemotherapy treatment, Mickey remained upbeat, providing life perspective to the Panthers head coach even amid a losing season and a house fire.

Rivera got involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network soon after Mickey’s death and was also the starter at last year’s PurpleStride race. PurpleStride is the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s signature 5K event that takes place across the country to raise awareness and research funding.

“My brother Mickey was my first and best teammate,” Rivera said in a statement this week. “Partnering with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network allows me to not only honor my brother, but to take action against this deadly disease.”

Those interested in the Charlotte race, which takes place at Marshall Park, can register as individuals or on a team online.