Rolf’s Story

Rolf’s third season as a placekicker in the NFL was cut short when he collapsed on a cross- country team flight while battling ulcerative colitis. He would need two emergency surgeries within six days and spend almost six weeks in the intensive care unit at UCSD Medical Center fighting for his life. Miraculously, he survived. And even more remarkably, returned to play seven more seasons with the San Diego Chargers, becoming the first NFL player ever to wear an ostomy appliance.


After retiring from the NFL and getting married, Rolf was shocked to discover several years later that he had acquired the hepatitis C virus from the nearly 80 units of blood he had required during his surgeries. Forced to confront his mortality once again, but now with a wife and four children depending on him, he took on this new health challenge with a vengeance. He returned to UC San Diego Health where he had been treated for his ulcerative colitis, this time leaning on Dr. Tarek Hasanein and the Hepatology Department and learned everything he could about the latest treatments for Hep C. He would ultimately participate in three new year-long clinical trials over an eight-year period and, in 2004, was deemed to have been cured.


Incredibly grateful once again and now committed more than ever, he has dedicated his life to patient advocacy and supporting the research and innovation that leads to new therapies. Rolf co-founded Legacy Health Strategies, a patient engagement company and continues to speak on behalf of patients at the state and national level and encourage the importance of continued research and innovation and how to improve patient outcomes.

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