Making his mom proud: NFL star DeAngelo Williams has paid for more than 500 mammograms since losing his mother to breast cancer in 2014
- The former Pittsburgh Steelers running back sponsors the ’53 Strong for Sandra’ program, a free mammogram event
- It pays for 53 mammograms at each event, plus any follow-up care
- Williams lost his mother Sandra Hill to breast cancer in 2014 at age 53
- He also lost four aunts to the disease before they turned 50
A former NFL star has covered the cost of mammograms for over 500 women in four years after his mother died from breast cancer in 2014.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams lost his mom Sandra Hill in 2014 when she was just 53 years old.
The next year, The DeAngelo Williams Foundation launched the 53 Strong for Sandra program, a free mammogram event that has since provided cancer screening to more than 500 women and counting.
Giving back: NFL star DeAngelo Williams has paid for more than 500 mammograms for women through his foundation
Tragic: He lost his mother Sandra Hill to breast cancer in 2014 at age 53
DeAngelo has been touched by breast cancer many times over, and also lost all four of his aunts to disease before they turned 50.
And he’s long been a supporter of breast cancer awareness, pushing the NFL in 2009 to allow players to wear pink cleats throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness month.
‘It’s not just about October for me; it’s not just a month, it’s a lifestyle,’ he told ESPN in 2015. ‘It’s about getting women to recognize to get tested.’
Then, in 2014, his mother passed away.
‘Sandra Kay Hill is the biggest reason I’ve been able to enjoy eight NFL seasons, going on nine with the Panthers,’ he wrote in an emotional piece for The MMQB after her death.
‘I remember the summer when my mom finally told me about her diagnosis. I was less than a year away from the NFL. She joked that she elected to have the surgery after the football season because ‘your offseason is my offseason. That’s how she was — fiercely protective of me and my interests.’
Scary stuff: He lost his mother and also four of his aunts to breast cancer
Incredible: Though he started out with a single event for 53 women, the program has expanded, and he’s now covered the cost for the test for over 500 women
He also pledged that, together, people would defeat the disease ‘that steals our mothers, our aunts, our sisters, our daughters and our wives before their time.
‘Until that final day comes, we have to fight, just as my mom did.’
All pink! He also pushed the NFL in 2009 to allow players to wear pink cleats throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness month (pictured in 2011)
His biggest contribution to the fight started when, in 2015, his foundation held its first 53 Strong for Sandra in Charlotte, North Carolina, providing cancer-detecting mammograms to 53 women.
Since then, they’ve expanded to hospitals in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jonesboro, Arkansas.
A 2D Digital Diagnostic Mammography costs an average of $200-250 in those cities.
Over 500 women have benefited from the program.
The foundation, which accepts donations, also pays for follow up appointments and treatments when needed.
‘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.’
‘DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone,’ his wife Risalyn Williams, who is also the executive director of The DeAngelo Williams Foundation, added.