"To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women," the athlete said.
Even though it's been five years since DeAngelo Williams' mother passed away following a battle with breast cancer, the pain of losing her remains fresh in the former NFL player's mind. Today, he is even more committed to fighting against the disease and to provide other women the opportunity to detect the danger before it's too late for them. Wanting to honor his beloved mother's memory, the 36-year-old has been helping women across the nation pay for their mammogram screenings through his nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation. Over the years, he has helped a number of women catch their breast cancers on time.
Former NFL player DeAngelo Williams pays for more than 500 mammograms to honor late mom https://t.co/oT0zUuAX7u pic.twitter.com/jEesH8dy3N— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 10, 2019
According to a report by PEOPLE, the athlete lost his mother Sandra Hill to breast cancer in 2014. Before Hill passed away at the age of 53, Williams, who played eight seasons for the Carolina Panthers and another two for the Pittsburgh Steelers, had seen the death of four aunts due to the disease, with all of them dying before they turned 50. Keeping all of his late female family members in mind, the running back decided to help women in the country pay for their mammogram screenings through his nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation.
DeAngelo Williams sponsors 500 mammograms to honor mom who died of breast cancerhttps://t.co/REWtWke66Z— TODAY (@TODAYshow) October 9, 2019
Since introducing the initiative in 2014, the athlete has helped pay for a total of 500 mammograms at hospitals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; Jonesboro, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina, through the foundation. Speaking to Today about his foundation’s accomplishment, Williams said, "To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women. We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to."
The cause resonates deeply with Williams, who died his hair pink in support of his mom when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. He also pushed for the NFL to allow all players to wear pink cleats during the month of October, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month. Sometime after Hill's death in 2014, when Williams was playing for the Carolina Panthers, he launched the '53 Strong for Sandra' program. It was a North Carolina-based event where the Charlotte Radiology and Levine Cancer Institute and the athlete's foundation collaborated to provide free mammograms and follow-up care to 53 women in the area.
This is dedicated to my mom, my aunts & women everywhere affected by Breast Cancer. I love you. #WeAreInThisTogetherhttps://t.co/bAwaanlfzV— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 11, 2015
Taking to Twitter, Williams opened up about why he chose 53 women for the program. He explained that it was a "significant number" to him as it represented "how old my mom was when she lost her battle to breast cancer." The following year, the athlete announced that his event had extended to Pittsburgh and Memphis. It was the same year that he signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While playing for the team Williams' asked the NFL for permission to wear pink on his uniform all year as a tribute to his late mother and aunts. However, his request was denied.
I just want to elaborate on the "53 mammograms I’m paying for” because there's much more to it... pic.twitter.com/ehu0zQ1nDt— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) October 16, 2015
Having helped hundreds of women to date, Williams now aims for a higher goal. He plans to host free mammogram screenings in all 50 states so that more women can benefit from the service. In a statement, the athlete's wife and executive director of The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, Risalyn Williams said, "DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone."
STRONG FOR MOM: Former NFL player DeAngelo Williams set out to pay for 53 mammogram screenings as a way to honor his mom, who died from breast cancer. Now, he has sponsored more than 500 mammograms 💗https://t.co/QvBQwbYhXN pic.twitter.com/AfRKnQACW1— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 10, 2019