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Morning News

Oakland Raiders Quarterback Discusses Super Bowl, Celiac Disease

Aired January 26, 2001 - 10:26 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Football fans are gearing up for this Sunday's game, from the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Giants will face off.

The Oakland Raiders, they came so close to making the game; defeated, though, by the Ravens.

Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon joining us now to talk about the upcoming football battle. Also a very special guest, with him as well, his daughter Daniel is joining us.

Good morning to both you Gannon. It's good to have you along.

RICH GANNON, OAKLAND RAIDERS QUARTERBACK: Good morning, Daryn. Thank you for having us.

KAGAN: We'll get to Daniel in just a second.

Rich, real quick: It was pretty much -- I mean, you got so close to Super Bowl, but this was a dream season for you. Wasn't it...

GANNON: It really was.

KAGAN: ... being with the Raiders and having great success?

GANNON: It really was. We were excited about the year we had. A little disappointed the way it finished, though. And we will keep working at it. We feel like we're on the right track here in Oakland, and we're excited about what's ahead.

KAGAN: Does that Ravens defense hurt as much as it looks like?

GANNON: They sure do. They're a good defensive football team. They play very well together, and tough to score points against. That's for sure.

KAGAN: Absolutely.

OK, let's get on to more personal and bigger battle for you. And that does involve your beautiful daughter, Daniel, who's right there. She is -- she's battling a disease. Why don't you tell us about that?

GANNON: Daniel has celiac disease. And what celiac disease is, and all of -- all immune disorder have, destroys the lining of her intestines in reaction to gluten. And gluten is a protein found in a lot of foods we consume as Americans. Any foods that contain any wheat, rye, barley or oats. And so it's a -- it's a disease that there's really no cure for right now. In fact, we're working very closely with the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. And they estimate that one in 50 Americans suffer from this disease.

KAGAN: Here's the good news. We can tell that Daniel is a very typical four-year-old.

GANNON: She sure is. This is -- this is first time for her..

KAGAN: Is it?

GANNON: ... but she's excited to be here.

KAGAN: Can she hear -- did you -- did you give her an earpiece, too? Or she just has her microphone?

GANNON: She just has her microphone.

KAGAN: OK, well, you know what? If she does get antsy and she needs to go, that's OK, too.

GANNON: OK.

KAGAN: We've -- we've seen her beautiful face, and if she wants to walk away, I understand...

GANNON: She's OK.

KAGAN: ... having to be for -- OK, we'll let her do what she wants to do.

Now, how did you come to this, to find out that she was having this problem in the first place?

GANNON: She was really struggling about eight months to a year. And essentially, she was starving in front of her eyes.

Her body can't absorb or assimilate gluten. And so essentially, it passes -- foods and nutrients would pass right through her system that contained anything with gluten in it. So she was starving in front of her eyes. Her stomach was bloated. Her ribs were exposed. And this is a disease that's often misdiagnosed. So it was very, very hard. We headed to several pediatricians. And really...

KAGAN: What were some of the things that they told you before they got it right?

GANNON: Well, it's -- it's often -- it's often misdiagnosed. It's hard to detect, unless you actually do a -- perform the specific test. And there was -- changed the formula. Maybe take her off dairy products. So we -- you go through all those situations and then symptoms. And it's very frustrating for the parents of children with celiac because you know there are something wrong, but yet you can't -- you can't pinpoint it.

KAGAN: And then, even when she gets the good news of a diagnose, meaning there's something you can do about it, it's still not easy. You ever try to keep a four-year-old on a gluten-free diet. That must be a challenge.

GANNON: It's very difficult. But fortunately for us, we've teamed up with some great partners. We're working with a company called Gluten Solutions. And they've created a care package. Actually, it's some of Daniel's favorites. In fact, Gluten-Free Pantry has come up with Daniel's Decadent Chocolate Cake Mix.

And so, we're excited that there's a lot of great things happening in the celiac community. And a lot of these proceeds, in fact -- the proceeds from the sale of this cake mix is going to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, which is really leading the cause in celiac research here in the United States.

And also, the proceeds from this particular assortment of goodies is going to Friends of Celiac Disease Research, which is a grassroots organization out in Wisconsin.

So we're working very closely with a lot of these organizations to promote awareness of the disease that's a lot more common than most people would want to think here in the United States.

KAGAN: Doing some good work there. Looks like Daniel might have inherited there your athletic ability.

GANNON: She's bouncing around. She's excited to get home and see her little sister -- her older sister.

But we're -- we're thrilled that the good things are happening. We're creating awareness for a disease that, as I said before, as many -- as many as one in 150 million Americans suffer from this disease. A lot of them don't even realize they have this disease. And so it's important for us to get out here and talk about it.

KAGAN: Good for you for spreading the word.

As long as we have you, as long as you've seen the Ravens up front, close and personal, any prediction for Sunday?

GANNON: I'll tell you what. I think they're a great football team. I think the defense is pretty evenly matched, in my opinion. I think if you are going to talk about, you know, a winner either way, I think the offense of the Giants might be a little stronger. So I would give them the edge in this football game.

KAGAN: OK, I know you will be watching, as we will.

And give a big thanks to Daniel. She's a star in the making.

GANNON: Thanks for much for having us.

KAGAN: Great. Rich Gannon from the Oakland Raiders, thank you very much.

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