The fight against breast cancer is an ongoing one. But, one football player has been inspired by his late mother to help other people continue the fight. For the people he’s helped, preventative care is key.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams has paid for more than 500 mammograms in honor of his late mother.
Williams is a staunch supporter of breast cancer awareness, especially because he has a personal connection to the disease.
In 2014, Williams’ mother Sandra Hill died from breast cancer at just 53 years old. Four of Williams’ aunts also died from breast cancer, all before the age of 50. In honor of his family, he started covering the cost of mammogram screenings in 2015 through his nonprofit organization, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation.
Originally, Williams paid for 53 mammograms because his mom was 53 when she died.
He called the campaign “53 Strong for Sandra” and focused on holding mammogram screening events for under-insured women in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since beginning the campaign four years ago, it’s grown to provide mammograms to over 500 women.
“To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women,” Williams said in a statement to TODAY. “We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to.”
Williams’ wife Risalyn Williams is the executive director of the DeAngelo Williams Foundation and is working to help the foundation reach its goal of providing free mammograms in all 50 states in the United States.
“DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone,” Risalyn told TODAY via email.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Williams was key in pushing for the NFL to allow players to wear pink in October in 2009 in honor of breast cancer awareness. He’s continuing his work to fight the disease with his foundation.