This former National Football League player has paid for the mammograms of over 500 women since 2014, and he has no intention of stopping.
Five years ago, DeAngelo Williams’ mother, Sandra Hill, succumbed to breast cancer at the age of 53 years old. The former running back, who played for the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers, also had four aunts who died from the disease before they turned 50, according to Today.
As a way of honoring his late relatives, Williams founded The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to help women all over the country by paying for their mammogram screenings.
Since he started the project, Williams and the foundation have paid for more than 500 mammograms done at hospitals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women,” Williams told Today. “We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to.”
Hill was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. As she battled against the horrible disease, her son showed her his support by dyeing his hair pink and convincing the NFL to allow all players to sport pink cleats throughout the Breast Cancer Awareness month in October 2009. At the time, fans of the sport were treated to a sea of pink – headphones, cleats, and pom poms all had the same color.
Williams first began providing free mammogram screenings in Carolina shortly after the death of his mother through the “53 Strong for Sandra” program. This was done in partnership with Charlotte Radiology and Levine Cancer Institute. In each event, 53 women are sponsored by the organization for their mammograms and follow-up care.
In a note on Twitter, Williams explained that he chose 53 women because it was a “significant number” that represented “how old my mom was when she lost her battle to breast cancer.”
In the future, the foundation hopes that it will be able to host a free screening (mammogram) in every state.
“DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone,” Risalyn Williams, the former player’s wife and executive director of the foundation, told Today via email.
With the support of organizations such as The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, the strong women and men fighting against breast cancer are assured that they will never be alone in facing this battle.
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