Panther Tracks

Charlotte man’s Super Bowl victory played out like a sports movie

Charlie Robison with granddaughters (left-right) Sloane Poth, age 10; Mary Claire Poth, 13; and Charlie Poth, 11.
Charlie Robison with granddaughters (left-right) Sloane Poth, age 10; Mary Claire Poth, 13; and Charlie Poth, 11.

Charlie Robison’s road to Super Bowl 50 could be modeled on an inspirational sports movie.

First, there’s the hardship to overcome. Robison, a 72-year-old Charlotte retiree, has been living with prostate cancer since 2002. He’s been through surgery, chemo, radiation and clinical trials, but it has spread to the membrane surrounding his brain.

So when the Prostate Cancer Foundation announced a Super Bowl 50 photo contest, his family thought he’d be perfect.

“He’s a fighter. He never complains,” says daughter Gwen Poth. Robison, retired CEO of an industrial tool company, is a Panthers fan, but “there’s no way he would ever splurge to go to the Super Bowl,” she said.

Cue the plucky hometown gang. He posed with granddaughters Mary Claire Poth, 13; Sloane Poth, 10; and Charlie Poth, 11 (yes, Charlie Robison has a granddaughter named for him). They and the family dog are all decked out in Carolina Panthers gear, which happens to sync with the #TurnFootballBlue theme to encourage awareness of the disease (think of a masculine version of breast cancer and pink).

When social media and electronic networking didn’t seem to be enough, they printed up fliers and hit the streets. Here’s where a celebrity cameo comes in: Gwen Poth’s sister Erin Robison, visiting from Boston, handed a flier to a handsome young man at Park Road Shopping Center. Sloane grabbed her dad and pointed: It was Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly. Once she realized it, Poth said, her sister chased Kuechly to the car and handed him a stack to share with the team.

If you know the genre, you know it’s got to look like the good guys will be defeated. Sure enough, when the online contest closed, Robison was in fifth place. But after the foundation checked and validated votes, he was at the top.

Robison and his wife, Gail, will see Charlotte’s team play Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., with tickets, airfare and hotel covered. Gail Poth and Erin Robison were planning to travel with them to help with their health needs, and an anonymous donor kicked in Super Bowl tickets for them, too.

So there you have it: A happy ending.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms