One Wapakoneta native used her voice to take a stand for breast cancer awareness, in front of an audience of 63,207 football fans.
Jennifer Christiansen, 43, sang the national anthem prior to the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions NFL game Sunday afternoon at Ford Field in Detroit.
Christiansen’s brother, Dave Christiansen, of Wapakoneta, said he attended the game and was proud of his sister’s performance on the field.
“It was absolutely wonderful — very emotional,” Dave Christiansen said.
Describing her as “upbeat” and “peppy,” he said his sister has a “great range” in her vocals, and her singing varies depending on the function.
Dave Christiansen said his sister was chosen because she is a beautiful singer — but also because she is a breast cancer survivor.
“It’s very rare that you get to sing for the NFL and breast cancer awareness at the same time,” Dave Christiansen said.
Jennifer Christiansen, who lives now Birmingham, Mich. but was raised in Wapakoneta, said this latest singing event was a unique experience for her.
“I’ve done Tigers, Red Wings, Pistons,” Jennifer Christiansen said about singing the national anthem. “I’ve never done the NFL.”
Jennifer Christiansen said she was grateful for the family and friends who came to the game to support her. She was also amazed
by 125 fellow breast cancer survivors who brought their support to the game.
“You see all these survivors who know what you’re going through,” Jennifer Christiansen said. “It was breathtaking knowing that I’m not the only one going through this.”
The game was part of the NFL’s campaign “A Crucial Catch,” in partnership with the American Cancer Society, which supports breast cancer during football games in 17 states.
She said each breast cancer survivor at the game took hold of two giant, pink breast cancer awareness ribbons decorating the field, and they also lined up to form a tunnel as the Lions players came onto the field.
As they say in Detroit, “It was a great day in the D,” Jennifer Christiansen said.
She said she was honored to represent the breast cancer cause and sing the anthem.
“There is a positive that came out of this,” Jennifer Christiansen said about her diagnosis and being able to support others suffering from breast cancer.
She discovered she had breast cancer one year ago, after she had a hysterectomy to remove a - pound mass in her stomach. During a routine physical and mammogram, her physicians discovered she had stage one breast cancer.
After radiation treatment, Jennifer Christiansen is cancer-free and back to work. She is currently waiting for one last reconstructive surgery.
“I’ve been out of work for two months,” Jennifer Christiansen said. “Now I’m back to singing full time.”
She is part of the “Royce & Jenn Band,” which she said performs for various events, ranging from private functions to bars and nightclubs.
As a professional singer, she said she was excited to sing for the NFL.
“It was a great opportunity — there are only eight home games,” Jennifer Christiansen said.
She said the first home game and the Thanksgiving game’s national anthems are sung by chosen “superstars.”
“That leaves six people per year,” Jennifer Christiansen said about the people chosen to sing the national anthem at Ford Field for the Lions. “It was such a blessing.”