Former NFL star DeAngelo Williams has been lending a hand in the fight against breast cancer for years, and now his donations have reached a major milestone.
Williams, who played for the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers during his 11-year career, launched the DeAngelo Williams Foundation in 2006. The organization, which raises money to help with breast cancer prevention, research and care, has a deeply personal mission for the football star, who lost his mother and four of his aunts to the disease.
In October of 2015, Williams announced that his foundation would begin covering the cost of mammograms so that women would have the chance to check for early signs of cancer. The foundation announced yesterday that it had now funded more than 500 screenings for women across the country.
The announcement comes four years after the campaign launched, and just five years after Williams lost his mother.
"To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women," Williams told Today in a recent statement. "We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to."
The year Williams's mother died, he died his hair pink, painted his toenails pink and wore pink accessories as part of his uniform. His brightly highlighted appearance — which he said was later banned by the NFL — was meant to bring awareness to people like his mom and aunts, who'd been forced to battle the disease.
"This is dedicated to my mom, my aunts & women everywhere affected by Breast Cancer. I love you," Williams captioned a 2015 video promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Now the running back's efforts have paid off. In addition to free mammograms, the foundation also recently hosted a "53 Strong DeAthlon," a fundraising event named for the age Williams's mother was when she died.
"DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman [or man] fights breast cancer alone," Risalyn Williams, Deangelo's wife and the executive director of the DeAngelo Williams Foundation, told Today.
And Williams isn't the only professional athlete fighting breast cancer in recent months. In September, NBA Hall of Famer Reggie Miller participated in a charity bike ride for the cause, and earlier this week several members of the Los Angeles Chargers hosted a charity yoga session for breast cancer survivors.