Just over a year ago the Fisher family was rocked by tragic news when their youngest son, Ethan, was diagnosed with Fancomi Anemia.
After the family circled their wagons and processed everything, they decided to use their public status and Ethan's diagnosis as a platform to raise awareness in the hopes of not just helping their own child, but others affected by the disorder as well.
It was then that the Kidz 1st fund was born, and in the year since its launch it's had some pretty profound effects. According to Kidz 1st:
"FA is a genetic disease which causes possible birth defects, bone marrow failure, and eventually leads to cancer years earlier than the general population."
The odds you knew anything about this rare disease before Kidz 1st were slim-to-nil, unless of course you knew someone affected by it.
A year after launching the foundation though, Kidz 1st has made an impact by leading an awareness-raising legislative campaign in Washington DC in addition to raising over 500,000 dollars in contributions towards FA research at the University of Minnesota's Amplatz Childrens' Hospital.
Perhaps one of the less noted impacts though has been on Florida State's head coach.
"[It's been] crazy, it really has been, it's put a lot of things into perspective for me in a different way," said Fisher of the past year of his life. "But also, the urgency, like they say you only get one go-round with these things. So make all the times you spend with people, all the time you coach [count]. We don't know when anything can happen in life, so enjoy every day."
Fisher, who is known for his fiery, no non-sense demeanor, admits the scare with his youngest son and the philanthropic work that scare has inspired has given him a fresh perspective on life.
"In the beginning it was a down thing, because you have to recover from it. But now what I think it's done is it's changed my outlook to a positive. Live life. They say it all the time, them kids, YOLO, you only live once," remarked Fisher, causing a ripple of laughter to burst through the back of the room.
"And you take it as a joke, but I'm going to tell you now, [when] things get put into perspective for you, you've got to remember something, you can't take things with you."
That new perspective has rubbed off on his team, it's inherent in the message he delivers to his team about quiet confidence. Not outward brashness but a calm, inward confidence in your preparation, program, coach's expectations and in your teammates. It may be sutble to some of the newcomers, but others like fifth-year senior QB EJ Manuel have noticed the slight shift in tone.
"Definitely, like [we've talked about] with a quiet confidence, Jimbo seems very relaxed and that always makes us relaxed," said Manuel.
Manuel was one of the first players Jimbo recruited when he arrived in Tallahassee as Bobby Bowden's offensive coordinator and the head-coach-in-waiting. Their relationship spans back to high school, Manuel is now heading into his fifth collegiate season under Fisher's tutelege.
After countless hours working in close proximity, if anyone on this team knows its head coach, its Manuel.
"You pretty much take the attitude that you get from your head coach, so when [Coach Fisher's] in good spirits we're in good spirits and when he's not, we're not," said Manuel. "He's our leader and he's who we look to in good and bad times. I think he's excited about the season, I think he sees a lot in us, he was talking about potential but we have to bring our potential into action."
That's a prospect Fisher seems confident in when you listen to him describe his seniors and the effect having three full recruiting classes in-house has had on the overall caliber of the athletes. And while a coach is always positive at the beginning of the season, Fisher's shift in tone seems to be a bit more genuine, a bit less steeped in false bravado.
"I've got a great job, I'm in a great atmosphere, I'm going to have fun with it, coach the heck out of them and we're going to win and do it in a positive way and not always worry sometimes about what you can lose, but worry about what you can have," opined Fisher.
"I think our world all the time worries about what you can lose or what can't happen and this and that, well what about what can happen? How about thinking positive and living every day and appreciating every day? This [past year] put it in a whole new perspective for me."