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Saints punter Thomas Morstead pulling (up) for Chris Cordaro

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Thomas Morstead figures the conditioning test that he and his New Orleans Saints teammates will endure Wednesday will take its biggest toll on the legs.

Good thing. Because Morstead might not have the appetite for doing much of anything involving his arms after doing pull ups in the Saints’ weight room at the Ochsner Sports Performance Center for an hour Monday.

Morstead, arguably the NFL’s fittest punter, put his fitness to the test for a heart-warming cause, as he set out to help raise $60,000 for a school fund for the children of Chris Cordaro, a former Saints employee who was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma in the pancreas, liver, bone, spine, scalp and multiple lymph nodes in 2015.

“Chris got diagnosed three years ago,” Morstead said. “I met him a number of times and just figured I’d go visit him in the hospital. He had a really bad diagnosis – I think he had two or three months to live, three years ago. Call it what you want; I call it a miracle.

“He went into remission and he’s had a few years now with his family just to be with them and go on vacation. A little bit of borrowed time, almost. He’s not doing well now and you just meet people sometimes that kind of impact you. We’ve gotten super close, we’ve had some pretty vulnerable conversations. He’s just been really faithful.

“I don’t know. When you just see somebody handling something so adverse in such an awesome way, that was kind of the pull to want to do something. I was talking with one of my priest friends here in town and he just said, ‘If you feel called to do anything, you need to do it.’ Me and my wife are doing a donation, which kicked it off. Just wanted people to know that I had skin in the game, I wasn’t just asking for people’s money, that it was important to me. It’s important to a lot of people in this Saints building.”

Important enough to Saints owner Gayle Benson, General Manager Mickey Loomis, Coach Sean Payton and a host of other team officials and players to stop by, greet Cordaro and watch Morstead lift himself time and again.

He had a goal of 400 pull-ups in the hour (he did them in one-minute intervals, in which he’d do several pull ups, then break for the remainder of the minute, then repeat). He completed 418, and has helped raise $48,645 so far. Two days remain in which donations can be made into the fund for Cordaro’s children, 7-year-old Ava and 4-year-old Landon.

Donations can be made at http://60forchris.wygwg.org/.

“It means the world,” said Cordaro, who was a sales account executive with the Saints. “This guy is top-notch. He does so much for so many people. Just to be on his radar means a ton.

“We hit it off his first week or two after he signed, through sponsorship and helping us out in sponsorship. We had a good interaction.”

Morstead is among the most charitable of Saints, via his What You Give Will Grow foundation.

“I just kind of feel like we’re all family here and I’ve been fortunate enough to stick around for a long time,” he said. “I just felt compelled to do something and to help out. I think it’s been nice to give the family something to focus on that’s outside of what they’re dealing with right now.”

Cordaro said the relationship with Morstead was a natural one.

“We have things in common, like soccer and football,” he said. “My old team (Louisiana Tech) played his old team (SMU) in college. We just connected. It’s relationships. So basically, when you work in corporate – at least the way it should be – you want to build those relationships and let them grow. So ultimately, you can have these relationships and it shows the good effect of it.

“A lot of teams don’t merge their teams together, and there may be reason for that. But, why not? We’re one team. And that’s the way I believe it should be.”

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