The 2020 season marks the fifth year the Washington Football Team participated in the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative.
In Washington's upset of the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 7, 41 players and three coaches/executives wore custom-designed cleats representing numerous non-profit organizations to bring awareness to causes they are passionate about.
The Washington Football Charitable Foundation also auctioned off the cleats, with all of the proceeds benefiting the charities represented. The auction outperformed last year by raising $35,400 for a total of 32 charities.
Head coach Ron Rivera knows the physical, mental and financial cost of battling cancer because he has been through it. He was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer, in August, and coached through seven weeks of proton radiation and chemotherapy. His final cancer treatment came the Monday after Washington's first blowout win over the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 25.
"For people to have to basically pay a small fortune to survive, I think there's something wrong with that," Rivera said. "So, I really think we need to have a medical system in play that will help in terms of paying these medical bills."
Rivera brought more awareness to this matter by supporting the American Cancer Society as a part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign. Between his sneakers, the "Rivera Strong" cleats and the cleats that Isaiah Wright and Cole Luke wore, the Charitable Foundation donated $2,340 to the American Cancer Society.
All of the proceeds from the "Rivera Strong" t-shirts will also go towards the American Cancer Society, Rivera said. Coaches and players debuted the apparel before Washington's Week 4 game against the Baltimore Ravens.
"The money that's raised goes directly to help in the battle against cancers," Rivera said. "They touch everything from childhood cancer to adult cancers, and it's not just about the research but about helping the people who are going through this battle against cancer."
Having grown up during the civil rights movement, Senior Vice President of Player Development Doug Williams understands what Black people have endured in their fight for racial justice. And with social unrest reaching a boiling point earlier this year, Williams believes it is important as ever to bring awareness to these struggles.
That's why Williams, the first Black NFL quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl, chose to support the National Museum of African American History and Culture as a part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign.
"I can remember growing up, looking at stuff on the black and white TV when they would stick dogs on them and put the water hoses on them, beating them down, it just came back to memory," Williams said. "So, it was easy to make the African American Museum a place that you want to donate to."
Williams first visited the museum, located along the National Mall in Washington D.C., with his wife and two of his daughters last summer. The collections and exhibits brought back so many memories, Williams said, about what Black people have gone through over the years and what they continue to go through.
Williams was not the only one to support the museum, either; joining him were safety Kam Curl, wide receivers Antonio Gandy-Golden and Dontrelle Inman and running backs Bryce Love and J.D. McKissic. Together, they helped raise $3,420 for the museum.
"With all of the things that I've seen in that museum," Williams said, "I thought it was fitting to be able to donate something to that museum other than what's already in there."
Terry McLaurin might be a top 10 wide receiver on the field, but he thinks of himself as a big kid. Kids are the future, McLaurin said, and they hold a special place in his heart. That's why he chose to support the Boys and Girls Club of America for this year's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign, and he helped raise $3,200 for the organization.
"The Boys and Girls Club is something I decided to have on my cleats because kids are near and dear to my heart," McLaurin said, "and I just want to impact kids in a positive manner, whatever their dreams and aspirations are."
That sentiment falls in line with the Boys and Girls Club of America's mission, which is to enable all young people to reach their full potential. It's a goal they have accomplished, as 88% of Club teens expect to complete some form of post-secondary education, according to the organization's website.
McLaurin said kids don't have the same appreciation for money as adults, but what they do value is time spent with them.
"If you can give your time and your effort and your wisdom to them, that's even better than the money," McLaurin said.
The BREM Foundation's mission is to "find curable breast cancer through expert education about early detection, access to diagnostic tests for women in need, and physician training." It is supported in that effort by the Washington Football Team, which has also partnered with the American Cancer Society and the Zeta Foundation, and its "THINK-PINK®" initiative to battle a deadly disease that will affect 1 in 8 women over the course of their lifetime.
"It's definitely a great foundation," Sweat said. "If you can detect some stuff early, you can actually save some lives, so I'm big on that."
All of those who participated in My Cause, My Cleats include:
- Kyle Allen (NEGU (Jessie Rees Foundation))
- Jonathan Allen (Sasha Bruce Youthwork)
- Troy Apke (Wolf Trap Animal Rescue)
- Peyton Barber (Peyton Barber Foundation)
- Jon Bostic (Multiple System Atrophy Coalition)
- Geron Christian Sr. (Community Justice Exchange)
- Cornelius Lucas (Community Justice Exchange)
- Cam Sims (Community Justice Exchange)
- Aaron Colvin (TSIII Foundation)
- Kamren Curl (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Antonio Gandy-Golden (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Dontrelle Inman (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Bryce Love (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- J.D. McKissic (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Doug Williams (National Museum of African American History and Culture)
- Ronald Darby (BREM Foundation)
- Danny Johnson (BREM Foundation)
- David Sharpe (BREM Foundation)
- Steven Sims Jr. (BREM Foundation)
- Montez Sweat (BREM Foundation)
- Thomas Davis Sr. (Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation)
- Antonio Gibson (Lupus Foundation of America)
- Cole Holcomb (Thumbs Up Mission)
- Khaleke Hudson (Black Lives Matter)
- Keith Ismael (National Urban League)
- Ryan Kerrigan (Leukemia and Lymphoma Society)
- Jennifer King (Women's Sports Foundation)
- Ron Rivera (American Cancer Society)
- Randy Jordan (American Cancer Society)
- Scott Turner (American Cancer Society)
- Drew Terrell (American Cancer Society
- Cole Luke (American Cancer Society
- Isaiah Wright (American Cancer Society)
- American Cancer Society (American Cancer Society)
- Wes Martin (Brave Breed Rescue Inc.)
- Terry McLaurin (Boys & Girls Club of America)
- Fabian Moreau (Alzheimer's Association
- Jimmy Moreland (MADD (Mother's Against Drunk Driving))
- Jared Norris (National Alliance on Mental Illness)
- Daron Payne (Jimmie Hale Mission)
- Ross Pierschbacher (American Diabetes Association)
- Chase Roullier (Hogfarmers Inc. Charitable Foundation)
- Brandon Scherff (Aiming for a Cure Foundation)
- Wes Schweitzer(19 For Life)
- James Smith-Williams (#SetTheExpectation)
- Jeremy Sprinkle (Autism Speaks)
- Dustin Hopkins (Washington Charitable Foundation Loads of Love)
- Nick Sundberg (Washington Charitable Foundation Loads of Love)
- Tress Way (Washington Charitable Foundation Loads of Love)
- Chase Young (The American Civil Liberties Union)