KC Chiefs players strike a pose as annual calendar shoot for cancer research comes to Arrowhead

KANSAS CITY, MO. -- They're known for their muscles, but on Tuesday, the Kansas City Chiefs showed the strength in their hearts, posing for the cameras again to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

This is the seventh year running for Braden's Hope, a Kansas City nonprofit that raises research money and awareness for childhood cancer. On Tuesday afternoon, Chiefs players posed with sick kids, such as 17-year-old Rachel Berland. She's one of 12 kids whose stories will be told in this year's benefit calendar.

Berland, who said she's originally from Oklahoma but attends Olathe Northwest High School, shared laughs and on-camera poses with Chiefs Longsnapper James Winchester. Berland and Winchester were paired together -- as were other kids and football players -- as a photographer guided them through several different photographic settings within the stadium.

Rachel Berland and her family pose with Chiefs longsnapper James Winchester.

Berland sai dshe's in remission, having been cleared from the two forms of Leukemia she's fought since 2015. Berland represents proof that older children are affected by pediatric cancers just as younger kids can be.

"When they think of pediatric cancer, they think of three- or four-year-olds," Berland said. "It's terrible for whomever. There are a lot more teenagers and 11- and 12-year-olds than you'd think get it."

"I've never been in her shoes, but I'm excited for her to have overcome and beat cancer. That's bigger than anything I will ever do in my life. It's pretty special," Winchester told reporters.

In seven years, Braden's Hope, which is named in honor of young cancer survivor Braden Hofen, has raised over $2 million for childhood cancer research in the Kansas City area. Hofen is now 13 years old and cancer free.

"The one thing that always stays the same is the hearts of the players," said Deliece Hofen, Braden's Hope president.

Deliece Hofen, Braden's mother, often points out that only 1 percent of money raised for cancer research is dedicated to sick children. The annual calendar shoots with the Chiefs, the Kansas City Royals and Sporting Kansas City are her agency's effort to help search for treatment and cures.

Hofen said she loves watching the athlete and patients develop friendships.

"The fun part of these calendar shoots is you know the athletes are these kids' heroes. As the calendar shoot evolves, the kids become heroes to the athletes. it's fun to watch these guys get to be kids again and play with our kids," Deliece Hofen told FOX 4 News.

Braden's Hope recently pledged to donate $3 million toward childhood cancer research over a three-year period, Winchester says he's thankful he and the Chiefs, and this calendar, can help fuel the quest for a cure.

This year's Braden's Hope calendar with the Chiefs will be available for purchase in September. You can find it on the Braden's Hope website, along with the nonprofit's other calendars.