Steelers players often wear custom cleats during pregame warmups, but this week against Baltimore, custom cleats will be the norm during the game for the second straight week.
For the seventh year the NFL is allowing players to represent a charity that touches them deeply in a unique manner with the league’s player cause initiative, My Cause My Cleats.
The initiative was created for NFL players to showcase a charitable cause in order to bring attention to it, and the players take part in helping with the design of their cleats.
After the players wear the cleats, they have the option to auction them off to raise money for their cause on NFL Auction, with 100% of the funds raised given to the charity. Fans may bid on player cleats at NFL.com/Auction.
Learn more about what causes are special to Steelers’ players below.
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PHOTOS: 2022 My Cause, My Cleats
During Weeks 13 and 14 of the 2022 NFL season, Steelers players are showcasing their chosen charitable cause on their game cleats
Cause: Montravius Adams Legacy Foundation
Montravius Adams started his foundation, the Montravius Adams Legacy Foundation, to help those who grew up in a similar environment as he did – a single parent home.
His mother was there for him for everything he needed growing up, and he wants to help other single mothers in similar situations, as well as kids.
“I started the foundation through my experiences in life,” said Adams. “It’s about supporting single moms. That is my background and how I was raised. That is my main passion in life. It’s about the single moms and also, I want to give back to kids. It goes 50-50 for me.”
When he talks about his mom and what she did means to him, a smile immediately comes to his face.
“There is no estimate as to what she means to me,” said Adams. “It can’t be measured. I appreciate everything she did.”
While he knows it means the world to her that he started the foundation, he didn’t do it for attention or anything. He simply did it because he cares.
“I am sure it means a lot,” said Adams. “But I don’t talk a lot about the stuff I do. It’s just something I want to do. It’s just a part of me. Being here in this short amount of time Pittsburgh has done a lot for me and I am doing the same for them.”
Cause: Colon Cancer Awareness
When something hits close to home, you want to do something about it.
That is exactly why Tyson Alualu is wearing his cleats to support his family and bring awareness to colon cancer.
“It’s something that definitely hit home for me,” said Alualu. “My grandfather passed away from it. I have a younger sister who battled it and overcame it. There are a lot of causes that hit home. But the one with my sister is the most recent.”
Alualu said it was tough to see her sister fight the battle but is so proud of how she could through it.
“It’s tough,” said Alualu. “It’s one of those things you never wish on anybody. Being somebody in your family that is younger than you, you don’t want to see them struggle through something like that. That was tough. Things are out of your control, but more than anything seeing her strength and faith grow because of it was very encouraging to see that.’
Being able to support his family through his cleats is something that touches his heart and he has done before, and he knows it means something to his entire family.
“It means a lot to me,” said Alualu. “It’s one of those things where we do things that might seem small, trying to honor them, but speaking for my sister it meant the world to see her name last time I did this and see grandpa’s name on the shoe. Seeing me display it on TV, on the football field, it means so much more to her and to me. It made her smile and hoping my grandpa is doing the same. It makes it all the more worth it.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: The Uniform Funding Foundation (TUFF)
Center Mason Cole grew up playing sports and was among those fortunate enough to have the proper equipment and uniform to play the game safely.
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for all kids, which is why The Uniform Funding Foundation (TUFF) was founded. TUFF is supported by former student-athletes who are passionate about sports and how they have affected their lives. The goal is to make sure lack of funding doesn’t keep youth athletes from being able to take part in the sports they love.
“I’ve done a few things with them,” said Cole. “They help fund underprivileged youth sports programs for uniforms and equipment.
“Sports are so important growing up. There are a lot of sports organizations out there that don’t have the proper funding for youth kids uniforms and equipment. If you do anything to help them have the equipment, uniforms, shoulder pads, helmets, to help them play, the more you can do the better.”
In addition to just providing them what they need, having the proper equipment also makes the game safer, which is a major factor in youth sports.
“We did an event in Tampa this summer,” said Cole. “We bought uniforms and helmets. We went to one of their practices and just to see the older helmets they were wearing and stuff, it’s important they have the best gear possible to protect them.”
Cole said the reaction to the delivery of the new equipment is what it’s all about.
“It’s special. That’s why you do it,” said Cole. “To see the glow on those kid’s faces. To see the impact that you are having on these kids is important. It makes you want to do it more.”
Cause: Merging Vets & Players (MVP)
Having family members who have served in the military was part of the driving force for Jesse Davis selecting Merging Vets & Players (MVP) as the organization he is supporting with his cleats.
The organization is built on helping those who possess a sense of strength, excellence and commitment, yet have struggles when they leave what they are doing, from veterans to athletes. It’s tough for many to make the transition to as they try to lead themselves, families and community away from the field.
MVP was created to help with the challenge to make sure all our nation’s warriors are as productive away from the field as they were on the field.
“It’s a group that was started to help veterans transition into a civilian lifestyle,” said Davis. “They bring in professional athletes and they share their story and try to help each other cope with certain things.”
By bringing the two together, it creates an environment where they can help each other, which is what former NFL player Nate Boyer and Fox Sports insider Jay Glazer hoped for when they found it.
“Nate Boyer was in Seattle my first year. We were roommates,” said Davis. “He is a former military guy that started this organization with Jay Glazer, and I thought it was really cool. I reached out to him and asked if I could help out and do My Cause, My Cleats with that.”
Davis’ brother, Cody, served in the military and his grandfather also served, driving him to want to help military-based causes.
“I have done military initiatives the last few years with My Cause, My Cleats,” said Davis. “I kind of gravitate toward the military for it because I find it interesting and whatever we can do to help the veterans is great.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: AIR: Artists Image Resource
For Kevin Dotson, My Cause, My Cleats isn’t just about what he will be wearing on his feet this week.
It’s about what other players around the NFL will be wearing.
Dotson is paining his own cleats to represent Artist Image Resource (AIR), an artist run, non-profit print and imaging organization that serves as a laboratory for artists, educators and the community. The mission is to integrate the creation of fine art prints with educational programs that explore the role of the artist in contemporary culture.
But he will also be helping others with their cleats. Dotson is painting cleats for three other NFL players who are represented by the same agent and helping them with their cause, including Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa (Odighizuwa Foundation), Cleveland Browns kicker Cade York (Best Buddies Group) and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen (Boo 2 Bullying), painting a pair for one of the Steelers AFC North rivals.
“No hard blood, but he is still a Raven,” joked Dotson. “Seriously, though, it’s cool to do for their foundations, for a good cause.”
Dotson even joked that a little black and gold might end up somewhere on Queen’s shoes.
“I might have to do something,” he said with a smile. “He just might have to look at it a little harder.”
Painting is nothing new to Dotson, but his desire to do it escalated in 2020 during the pandemic.
“I have always been kind of artistic,” said Dotson. “When I was younger, I always used to draw. I went a long time without doing anything with it. The pandemic opened me up to it again because I had so much time to do whatever I wanted. I like to have things I made hung up on the walls that I have done. It helps me.”
This will be the first time Dotson has painted cleats, but he isn’t inexperienced in the shoe game.
“I have painted shoes, sneakers. I am just transferring it to cleats,” said Dotson. “The painting made me move on to other mediums of art. I started dyeing things, tie dye. Hydro dipping. Stuff like that. I have been to pottery class. That was just the start of it.”
When playing such a physical game like football, Dotson said art gives him a sense of calm.
“It takes your mind off of everything,” said Dotson. “The way I do it, I will go for seven hours straight. I might not look up for six hours after starting something then go to sleep. It helps a lot.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Reid’s Rebels
When Paula Garrant learned that Pat Freiermuth was wearing his cleats to support Reid’s Rebels, a foundation set up to honor her late son Reid Garrant, her heart exploded.
“It means everything. In one word, everything,” said Garrant. “I am going to cry.”
She paused for a few minutes, too choked up to talk.
After composing herself, she continued to talk about her son Reid, who passed away in 2018 of leukemia at just 22-years old.
“It’s pretty big,” said Garrant. “I miss my son. It’s been four years. We are going on the five-year angel-versary next June. It happened so quickly when the whole leukemia thing happened. It was 16 hours from the time he was diagnosed until he died. It was crazy.
“My son Reid played with Pat and his brother, Timmy. My son was a senior when Pat was a freshman. We are from the same hometown, the same school. It just means so much.”
Freiermuth said he wanted to bring attention to Garrant and the foundation, hoping to help others battling the same disease.
“It means a lot,” said Freiermuth. “Just being able to wear those cleats and put recognition to that foundation. Reid’s mom has worked so hard to get her son’s name out there. Being able to help in that process on a national stage like that is awesome.
“It is cool. The more eyes on the cleats, the better. That is what really helps the cause.”
One of the things that touches Garrant’s heart the most is that Reid was a Steelers fan his entire life and would have been overjoyed that Freiermuth was drafted by them.
“Reid’s favorite team from the time he was born, he had no choice because of his dad, was the Steelers,” said Garrant. “He came out in black and gold. Pat doing this not only for his teammates, friends, family, our community and Reid’s organization, it means so much.
“When he was drafted by the Steelers, it was a divine intervention. It means so much to me. This is like a dream. Unfortunately, my son is not physically here, but I feel like spiritually he is going to be with us that day and see Pat with those cleats on fighting for kids with leukemia.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Honoring members of Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and Bernalillo County Fire Department lost in a helicopter crash
When he heard the news this summer, Zach Gentry was no different than anyone else in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area.
His heart sunk.
Three members of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and a member of the Bernalillo County Fire Department were killed when they were returning from assisting in fighting a wildfire in the area and their helicopter crashed on July 16. They were providing bucket drops and other air logistics for the fire crews on the ground.
“It was close to home. That tragedy happened when I was back home between OTAs and training camp,” said Gentry. “I was home, and the wildfires were a big problem in the Southwest. It’s something that really affected the community. When you were driving around you would see people hanging American flags everywhere on highways and stuff.
“When they brought them into town, it was a little bit out of Albuquerque, they brought them back in the ambulances and it was touching to see the way the community came together and honored them. I want to do something like that too. It was really close to home and I want to do something to honor their memory.”
Gentry, who has a cousin who is a member of the fire department, has admiration for the sacrifices all of the first responders make and admits it’s something he couldn’t do.
“The wildfires there are a problem,” said Gentry. “You see them every year in the Southwest and the West. Fighting them is something I wouldn’t want to do or don’t have what it takes to do. I appreciate what they do all of the time. It’s not easy to be a firefighter or a first responder at any time. My cousin is a firefighter in Albuquerque as well. I am sure it’s something they think about. I am sure it goes through their mind. But with all of the training they have, they are fearless. It’s something I wouldn’t be able to do myself and am thankful they are able to do.
“It’s just so close to home that I want to honor them.”
Cause: Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation
For Najee Harris, his cause doesn’t get any more personal.
Through his own foundation, Da’ Bigger Picture Foundation, Harris is assisting underserved families in reaching their potential and goals.
“We help underserved families reach their goals and we have tools to help them achieve what they want in life, from adults to kids,” said Harris. “We have camps and provide as much as we can to help support their cause. I started my foundation because I once was those kids, families, that needed help in life. I think everybody has adversity, that point in life where they need some help. For me to be in position to help them out is where I am now.”
He knows what it’s like to need that extra help.
Harris faced adversity in his life, including living off and on in a homeless shelter, one that he actually went back to after he was drafted and hosted a party for the kids who are served there. It was that adversity and more that shaped him, that guided him, that made him who he is today and helped him get through some of the football challenges he has faced.
“I was once in their position,” said Harris. “I know how it feels, how it feels to not have much help. To be in a position to help them inspires me.
“A lot of time I will tell kids there are tough times right now, but even if things don’t go your way and you see other people getting things, because a lot of times I would see people get money or other things in the wrong ways.
“I tell kids do not go in the path they lead but go where there is no path and leave a trail. Even if you walk your own journey, you can always create a better situation. You can have a better story if you do the things the way you want to.
“When kids or families are going through time times, it’s hard to see the bigger picture, the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep grinding it out and doing things the right way, keep persevering, you will see the bigger picture. What those tough times create and your mindset of how to attack it in life, there are going to be a lot of other situations where you’ve got to face adversity, and these tough times help you persevere through all of that.”
Cause: American Kidney Fund
The 2021 season was one filled with ups and downs for punter Pressley Harvin III, but there aren’t many that truly knew how tough the season was on the rookie punter outside of his given family and his Steelers’ family.
Harvin went through pain that is almost indescribable last year, losing his father and grandmother within two weeks of each other, all of it surrounded by a time of year when the focus is on celebrating family, not mourning their loss.
Harvin’s father, Pressley Harvin Jr., passed away on Christmas morning in 2021 as the Steelers were preparing to head to Kansas City for a Week 16 game against the Chiefs, and his grandmother passed two weeks later, just ahead of the regular season finale against the Baltimore Ravens.
It was a difficult time for Harvin and now he is doing his part to honor his dad and one of the battles he fought during his life.
“My dad had kidney failure when he was 16,” said Harvin. “Up until when he passed the last year, he had been trying to do things to help and donate. Just to be on the list for a kidney transplant is tough. I wanted to give awareness of that and how tough dialysis. It takes a long time for people to get a kidney transplant. My dad had two when he was alive and those didn’t work out. When he had cancer a lot of people don’t realize but you can’t get back on that transplant list until you are cancer free for a set amount of time. I wanted to raise awareness for the kidney fund to give people somewhat of an education.”
Harvin had an extremely close relationship with his dad, making his passing extremely difficult. But he wants to make sure he helps to fulfill his father’s wish of helping the organization by wearing the cleats and bringing attention to it.
“It’s important because it was impactful in my life,” said Harvin. “During my dad’s life, I would see him struggle every now and then, but he always had a smile on his face and just wanted to keep fighting the health issues he had. That is the same mentality I want to bring. To let people know you aren’t alone. We do know that there are issues and sometimes it does take a long time to wait for a kidney. Just to give people a sense of hope and tell them they are not by themselves.”
Harvin knows his father would be smiling and proud if he had the opportunity to see him wear the shoes, but also knows he will be with him.
“It would mean the world,” said Harvin. “Last year when he came for the Tennessee game, Mr. (Art) Rooney and the organization made a donation for him to the American Kidney Fund. It is impactful. It would have meant a lot for him to see me raise awareness not only for him, but for so many people who have similar issues.”
Cause: Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs
When J.C. Hassenauer went to his first Penguins game, he never thought he would meet someone who would have a profound impact on his life.
But that was just the case when he met Jody Steinberger, as well as his service dog, Nick.
Steinberger, who is a veteran, helped to host Hassenauer at the game and the two formed a bond. Hassenauer was also touched by Nick, the German shepherd who has literally been a lifesaver for Steinberger and was provided to him by Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.
“They provide service dogs to former veterans,” said Hassenauer. “I met Jody, he was in the Navy and the Army, and he suffers from PTSD. He got a dog, Nick, a great dog. They do a lot of stuff here in Pittsburgh and I wanted to support him, support the foundation.
“I think they do a really good job of training the dogs and making sure they are able to regulate whatever the issue the person they are serving has. For instance, Nick has alerted Jody multiple times of a heart attack before he even knew. He has saved his life multiple times already.
“Jody is a great guy and Nick is an amazing dog. They came to camp a few times this year and they are just great people, so I wanted to support them this year.”
When Steinberger received Nick, he was already trained to be compatible with him, which is what led to his ability to save his life and alert him when he was having two heart attacks.
“Nick is the champion of all service dogs,” said Steinberger. “He does so much. Nick was trained to do my blood sugar and my blood pressure. When I got him, he was already trained to my scent.
“A month after I got Nick I had a heart attack. That should have killed me. Because he was alerting so aggressively, I was able to get to the hospital in time. The next day I had a stroke which means had I ignored the heart attack, and I felt fine, I only went because he barked, and he isn’t supposed to bark ever. But he can smell an enzyme that he picked up on that sent me to the hospital early enough to prevent the heart attack from killing me. This happened again about nine weeks ago. My blood pressure was okay, but they checked other things and that is where his miracle came in.”
Cause: Urban Impact Foundation
Helping kids is something that Alex Highsmith holds near and dear to him. He wants to be someone who can inspire kids, who can make a difference in their lives, who can lead them in the right direction.
That is why since arriving in Pittsburgh, he has worked closely with Urban Impact Foundation, an organization which has a strong focus on sports being a safe haven for kids and invests in the lives of at-risk children and their families.
Highsmith has supported the organization through attending their camps and other events, as well as selecting them to be the recipient of his donation through the team’s Social Justice Fund.
This year he is taking it a step further, highlighting their work through My Cause, My Cleats.
“It’s so important what Pastor Ed Glover is Doing and everyone who works at Urban Impact,” said Highsmith. “Just to see how they have impacted Pittsburgh, and the North Side area of Pittsburgh in particular, by investing in the youth, the next generation. I love what they do.
“Their sole mission is to bring in the young kids and give them options. With the camps and learning, it’s so important. There are so many kids they have had an impact on. Them giving their lives to it means a lot.”
Highsmith also appreciates the faith-based side of the foundation, which allows the kids to have spiritual guidance as well.
“I love it. They bring the Gospel to everything they do,” said Highsmith. “That is something important to them and to me. They invest in the kids spiritually. It’s not just emotionally and physically but also spiritually as well. I just love what they are doing. Whenever I was thinking of something, they were my first option.”
Cause: UPMC Magee Womens Hospital of Pittsburgh
Diontae Johnson doesn’t have a lot of memories of his mother. And it hurts. It hurts deeper than he even admits.
You can see it when he talks about her, when he tries to recall the moments with her. But the moments were too few, and he was too young to even remember most of them.
Johnson lost his mother, Felicia Boyer, when he was only five years old. Boyer had a tough battle with breast cancer, a battle she lost at just 24 years old.
In both cases, they were too young. Too young to lose her life, too young for him to lose his mother, to understand what losing his mother was even about.
And to this day, it’s still tough to understand.
“I remember little things about my mom,” said Johnson. “Even though she was sick and going through stuff, she would act like nothing was going on. She was a strong person.
“I asked how she passed as a kid, but I didn’t go into depth about it because I was young and didn’t understand it all.”
It’s that pain, that sadness that has Johnson wanting to bring attention to breast cancer awareness, supporting UPMC Magee Womens Hospital of Pittsburgh with his cleats.
While he might not have understood cancer, the impact it could have, he did see some of the effects it had on his mom. He didn’t realize it then, but he does now, that she never let him know how bad it was, protecting and shielding her young kids.
“She was getting weaker and weaker. She was losing a lot of weight,” recalled Johnson. “She was a diabetic too, so that took a toll on her. Her body couldn’t take that much. She was so young and doing the best she could. She had a lot to deal with.”
One memory Johnson does have is one he would like to forget, the day his father, Leo Johnson, had to deliver the news no child wants to hear.
“I was coming home from school one day,” said Johnson. “My dad picked us up and told us our mom was gone. I didn’t know how to react. Just hearing that hurt real bad.”
Johnson paused for a moment, just thinking about the loss, a loss impossible to imagine for a child that young.
“It was real hard for him and his sister, Kianna, who was only three,” his father Leo quietly shared. “They would wake up in the middle of the night crying. They would want their mom. Sometimes I would have to get off work because they would get emotional at school and want their mom. It was hard.”
Johnson has never said much about his mother, never opened up about what he has been through until now. And he is doing it, because like his father, he wants to be a leader. He wants to help others who are battling breast cancer and other forms of the disease by raising awareness, bringing it to the forefront.
“If you can catch it at an early age, it might help,” said Johnson. “You never know what is going on with your body day-to-day, even if you feel healthy. You have to get checked. My mom got checked, but the cancer was there. It took a toll. But it can help to catch it early.”
Johnson said it gives him perspective knowing that his mother went through so much and never complained. And he knows there are many out there battling the disease now, or who have battled the disease, and also never complained, always staying positive.
“I am learning more about it, learning more what people go through now,” said Johnson. “You can walk around and not know somebody is going through something way worse than you are every day. You can have a negative attitude, and not know that person has it way worse than you do. You have to make sure people are all right. Ask people how they are doing. You never know what someone is going through. Somebody’s situation can be way worse than yours.
“For people to be able to deal with what they go through, function every day in life, and have a smile on their face, I find that unbelievable. I don’t know how to explain it, but a person is still going through something so difficult, and they have the strength to focus and keep doing what they love every day. It’s a blessing.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Boys & Girls Clubs in Puerto Rico
With Puerto Rico still recovering from one of their most recent hurricanes, Hurricane Fiona, one of many that has brought widespread devastation to the area over the years, John Leglue wants to do his part to help.
His fiancé, Bianca Ryals, is from Puerto Rico, the couple meeting while they were both student-athletes at Tulane.
“She is from there, that is home for her, and with all of the hurricanes and damage they have had I want to do something to help them,” said Leglue. “It’s special to me because of my fiancé. Puerto Rico is a small island. They went through a lot after Hurricane Maria and others passed through over the years and I want to be able to give back to Puerto Rico.
“That is where we are going to get married. It’s special in my heart. Puerto Rico has part of my heart too and giving back is something I want to do.”
While San Juan, the area where Ryals is from, didn’t sustain as much damage, other areas close by did. And that takes away some of the joy kids who live there get to enjoy. He wants to change that.
“The outskirts, the electric grid got damaged, some people are still without water and power,” said Leglue. “It’s one of those things we have to continue to rebuild the infrastructure. With the Boys and Girls Club they are able to do things to directly impact the kids, help them play sports again, things like that. I know baseball and basketball are big there and I want to help with anything I can to raise any type of awareness out there.”
Cause: Bethlehem Haven
If there is anyone who can relate to his cause, it’s Arthur Maulet.
Maulet is supporting Bethlehem Haven, a Pittsburgh shelter for homeless women that has provided nearly 13,000 nights of shelter, and nearly 60,000 meals a year. It also provides programs to help with transitional housing, employment training, and healthcare to lead toward self-sufficiency while keeping the core values of hospitality, compassion, integrity and empowerment.
Maulet understands their plight as growing up, he too found himself homeless and having nowhere to turn.
“Me being homeless growing up, me trying to find shelter, I understand it and really want to help and bring awareness to these individuals,” said Maulet. “A lot of people nowadays think homeless people are con artists. If someone is standing on the road, they truly don’t have much. If I can give back to someone, that is my job to do because I have been there.”
Maulet grew up in New Orleans, removed from all the glitz and glamour of Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras revelers, in the Lower Ninth Ward.
It’s an area that basically wasn’t on the radar for anyone outside of the region until the Summer of 2005, when Hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, leaving the Lower Ninth Ward under water and devastated after storm surges and levee breaches wiped away what little many residents there had.
For Maulet, it was just another gut punch in a difficult life growing up in the Lower Ninth Ward.
“Tough neighborhood. Didn’t have much,” said Maulet. “I was the oldest of five, two brothers, two sisters. Just trying to survive. Welfare family. No mother. Mother on drugs. Dad not in my life. My grandfather took care of us when we were smaller.
“I was homeless for a point in time in my life. Sleeping on a church bus. Dropped out of school twice. A long road. Going through Hurricane Katrina. Dealing with that. Not knowing what was going to be my next move for a young kid.”
Stop for a minute and think about all of that. Think about what he went through.
And then think about watching the news and everything you heard about Hurricane Katrina.
The devastation. The destruction. The complete loss of everything.
Then think about being a 12-year-old and losing the little that you did have.
That was Maulet’s life.
When Katrina hit, his younger siblings were evacuated out of New Orleans, but Maulet and his grandfather, Anthony Hicks, stayed behind with the assumption it would just be a passing issue. It was far from that.
For two weeks the two lived in the New Orleans Superdome, set up as a shelter for those who truly had nowhere else to go.
“That is when I hit a really rough patch in my life,” recalled Maulet. “Honestly, it was a lot.”
Maulet knows others are going through similar situations and he wants to do his part.
“I am from New Orleans,” said Maulet. “There are a lot of homeless people there. I am going to have my first coats and cuts soon, giveaway coats to homeless and get them haircuts.
“I want to give them dignity. I want to uplift them.”
Dan Moore Jr.
Cause: Mental Health Awareness
It’s not an easy subject talk about, especially for tough, professional athletes.
But it’s one they shouldn’t be afraid to talk about, and Dan Moore Jr. totally understands that, which is why his cleats are focused on mental health awareness.
Moore has listened to the ‘I Am Athlete’ podcast on YouTube, done by Brandon Marshall, Chad Johnson and Fred Taylor. While the topics hit on everything on and off the field, one of the topics that stood out for Moore is mental health.
“It’s huge to hear what they say because these guys are possibly going to be Hall of Famers and they talk about the same things, they felt around the same thing going through the draft process, going through different types of seasons, injuries, and then when they have guest speakers on they’re able to express themselves and are vulnerable enough to open up about their experiences like we’re all going through,” said Moore. “It’s kind of encouraging. It’s opening people’s eyes to talk about it more, because honestly, just sharing our experiences and talking about it, is what’s going to help us get through it and know that we’re not alone. There are other people going through these things.”
Moore understands that talking about mental health isn’t an easy subject to approach. Especially for a man. And especially for a football player who has an image of being a tough guy.
“I think it is a huge aspect of not only sports, but just in general,” said Moore. “It’s something a lot of people are afraid to speak up about, specifically athletes and males because it’s the society we live in today. Athletes aren’t given that platform to express their feelings. It’s something we don’t talk about a lot. But it’s big. At the end of the day, we’re all human. I think some people skip over that part when they’re just sitting there watching us as entertainment.
“Your size, your strength, your God-given ability has nothing to do with the way you feel about something, the circumstances that are going on around you.”
For a young player, adapting to the NFL can be challenging, and understanding that everything you are experiencing someone else has done it and there are always people to get advice from.
“It’s things like waking up early every single day and having the same routine, the same schedule every single day,” said Moore. “And we’re talking about waking up not feeling your best for almost six months, your body aching. Then there are the sacrifices, being away from your family, being away from loved ones. Not being able to spend holidays with your families. It takes a toll on you. And it can be some days where you just wake up with those attitudes. A lot of people like to explain it as I haven’t had my coffee yet. I guess it’s similar to that, but athletes definitely have those days, and it could be something very minute. It’s about coping with it and understanding what you’re feeling, maybe talking to someone about it and trying to work through it because at the end of the day you do have a task at hand, and you got to get done.”
Cause: Dream On 3
Larry Ogunjobi can look a bit intimidating to young kids, at 6-3, 300 plus pounds of pure toughness.
But when it comes to kids, what they have to realize is he has a huge soft spot and a heart of gold.
Ogunjobi loves doing something to make a kid smile, that is why he choose Dream On 3 for his cleats.
Dream On 3 works to enrich the lives of kids with life-altering conditions by making their sports dreams come true. For many, playing sports might not be possible. But interacting with athletes from the sports they love can be just as meaningful.
“It’s a charity in Charlotte that works with kids, like a Make-A-Wish does,” said Ogunjobi. “There was a kid when I was in Cleveland, Nazir, his dream was to come to a Browns game, so we made that happen for him and his family. Took him to a game, walked him through the facility. It was amazing.
“It’s a great organization, helps a lot of kids and really gives back. I love supporting them.”
During the pandemic Ogunjobi took part in virtual events with the organization, including sports trivia, keeping the dreams going even when in person activity was limited.
Now he wants to do more.
“We’re going to do a dinner when we play the Panthers in Charlotte,” said Ogunjobi. “We are going to invite some of the kids who aren’t able to travel so we will have a nice little dinner for them and their families.
“It really warms my heart to do this. A lot of times they see us on television and that is just it. Something like this it makes it super personal. They see that we are real people. It means a lot to put a smile on their face, a lot of joy for them. It’s super important. I love it.”
Ogunjobi appreciates that the NFL allows them to use their platform for this and bring attention to a variety of causes.
“I think it’s a great way to use our platform,” said Ogunjobi. “We can put something on our cleats that can go far in helping organizations, any organization anyone is pushing for. We have a huge platform. So many people watch us every Sunday, Monday, Thursday. It’s super exciting to be able to be a part of that.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Cancer and Breast Cancer Awareness and Research
Rookie George Pickens understands the best way to help people with cancer, breast cancer in particular, is to help with research. And sometimes that means bringing attention to the cause to increase funding and resources to help in the fight.
“Breast cancer is one of the cancers that impacts so many people and bringing attention to it is something that is important,” said Pickens. “Anything I can do to help bring attention and raise money for the cause, I am willing to do.”
Pickens said nobody in his family has ever had breast cancer, but he did lose his grandmother to colon cancer.
“I am hoping with enough research it can change things,” said Pickens.
One thing Pickens feels is important is male athletes bringing attention to a cause that impacts so many women.
“There are a lot of women out there who are dealing with it,” said Pickens. “Any type of sports team that can bring attention to it, get it in forefront and help battle, it is important.”
Pickens knows he has teammates who have lost family members to breast cancer, and have some who are survivors. He can empathize with their loss and just wants to do his part.
“I lost my grandmother to colon cancer,” said Pickens. “I understand where they are coming from. I understand what they went through. I went through it.”
Cause: Mya Lin Terry Foundation
Family is something that means everything to Kenny Pickett, so there was no question he was going to wear his cleats to support someone who had an impact on his life.
Mya Lin Terry was one of Pickett’s closest friends growing up, his next-door neighbor and his younger cousin. She was a sweet, loving, young girl who enjoyed life and having fun.
But life dealt her something no child should have to endure. She was diagnosed with cancer at an early age, battling the disease for five and a half years before she lost that battle when she was only 10 years old.
“It was hard to see what she went through,” said Pickett. “You don’t want to see someone you love going through a tough time, and close family members, my aunt, grandparents, parents, we are a tightknit family and seeing someone go through something like that was really tough.
“She passed away from cancer when I was 13, she was 10. It was really tough.”
During her young, short life Terry gave back to others, always thought of others, and was an inspiration to so many. That is why her family wanted to continue her passion for helping others by creating the Mya Lin Terry Foundation, which Pickett is supporting with his cleats.
“We have had the foundation going for some time now,” said Pickett, who is on the board of directors. “My aunt runs it, my mom helps out, people in the town get involved. It’s a great community and we raise money to give to families that have the same situation Mya had. It’s great to help those families and see success stories, see kids get healthy. It’s definitely something near and dear to my heart and our family’s hearts.”
While the foundation has had incredible success, Pickett is bringing even more attention to it by wearing the cleats on a national stage, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think it will mean the world to my family, especially my aunt,” said Pickett. “To have that logo on my cleats, to have the back story behind that. Everyone will know how great my cousin was. I will be proud to wear those cleats.”
Terry’s mother, Pickett’s aunt Kelly Terry, is happier than anyone that he is wearing the cleats.
“We’re coming up on Mya’s passing anniversary,” said Terry. “It’s a very emotional time for our family. We realize she is gone as long as she was here. We started our foundation trying to honor her memory, but by honoring her memory providing assistance for other children who are battling as well.
“For Kenny to do this, I think it’s awesome he wants to remember her personally because they were so little. They grew up together. She was diagnosed at five years old. Our families jumped in and took care of me and were like come on, we got you Kelly. We just merged our two families together and tried to get it through it the best we can. I know that is why he is wearing her cleats, because they were close.
“And for the foundation’s awareness, I can’t say enough about what that means. Unless you really know somebody, nobody thinks that kids get cancer. We have 10 kids with cancer in our town that has about 3,000 people. We need to create awareness for it. I am elated he is doing it because it creates awareness.
“I am very happy. From a personal perspective it warms my heart that he is using his position to help this cause.”
The foundation has regular events, some small, some big including a newly started golf outing. Through their efforts they have already provided $1 million in grants issued to families dealing with pediatric cancer. The grants have gone to different avenues, from the joy of giving a family a wish trip, to the heartache of paying for a funeral, to research to help find a cure. They also have started a scholarship program where high school students can apply based on giving back to the community being a factor.
They will also be donating a playground to Ocean Township, New Jersey, close to an area where Mya went fishing with Pickett and her grandfather growing up.
“It’s so hard what the family all witnessed. Five and a half years she fought,” said Terry. “What she went through was unimaginable. To help others, to see what Kenny is doing, it really is special.”
Cause: Cancer Awareness
James Pierre knows how losing someone to cancer can hurt, how it can impact someone, how it can change their lives so much.
He saw it happen to the mother of two of his closest childhood friends, Devon Sanders and Malik Fleming, who lost their mother, Shirley Temple Kemp, known to all as ‘Miss Shirley,’ to cancer.
“She had very advanced cancer, and lost her life to it,” said Pierre. “It was a really bad situation she was in with her health.
“I want to bring awareness to it. I want to bring attention to it to help others. My friend also lost his aunt to cancer last year. It seems like it’s happening a lot in my hometown. I just want to do something.
“It was really hard to see what they went through. Growing up, we were always around each other. All we did was play football, run around the neighborhood and play. We used to all be together. It just hit home.”
For Pierre, having the opportunity to show support for her and them in an NFL game is something that means the world to him.
“This is very special for me,” said Pierre. “Growing up I always wanted to be in the NFL. I would see guys doing things like this, supporting people and bringing awareness to things. It’s really special to be able to do it.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Symbol of the Cure
At some point in their lives, most people have been touched by breast cancer either having a family member or friend diagnosed with the disease.
For Steven Sims, it touched him even before he was born.
When Sims mother, Nytasha Sims, was pregnant with him, her mother, Dora Jackson, was diagnosed with breast cancer. And that wasn’t the only time it touched his life. His paternal grandmother, Loubertha Sims, was also diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Every year I do that when I am active,” said Sims. “It’s just about giving back. Breast cancer awareness is important to me because both of my grandmothers had breast cancer. One of them had breast cancer before I was born, while my mom was pregnant with me, when I was in her belly. My mom said she cried a lot about it, and I think that is why I have such a great bond with my grandmothers.”
Sims said he is blessed both his grandmothers are now survivors, still there to enjoy life and family.
“They are both still doing well,” said Sims. “I have two survivors in my family. It’s big to me. It’s near and dear to my heart. That is why I do this.”
While his grandmothers might not be able to come to all of his games, he knows they are always supporting him, and it means the world that he can support them now.
“They don’t always get to come see me play, so I try and give back to them and let them know I am thinking about them any way I can,” said Sims. “You will see it on my cleats. It means everything.
“I didn’t know a lot about what they went through. They told me about it as I was getting older. I was young for both of them. My dad’s mom, I was in middle school when it happened. I knew about it because there was a lot of going to chemo and stuff like that, taking her there, everyone taking turns and doing their part. It’s very touching.”
Sims, who said he is extremely close with both of his grandmothers, hopes his story encourages women to take advantage of breast cancer screenings and early detection.
“I definitely understand what people go though. It’s scary,” said Sims. “Both of them could have been gone. If something would have happened to my mom’s mom, it would have been before I was even born, and I wouldn’t have gotten to meet her. It’s definitely eye opening.”
Benny Snell Jr.
Cause: 22 Oats Strong Foundation
Strong is a word that describes Chris Oats, a former University of Kentucky linebacker whose life changed when he suffered a stroke in May of 2020 at just 20 years old.
Oats, a former teammate of Benny Snell, is using that strength and determination inside that he has to fight back from the stroke and regain his physical strength and mobility that the stroke stole from him.
“I just want to show and spread awareness to a close teammate, friend of mine,” said Snell. “When I play in these cleats, I want his family and the organization to be able to keep them as well.”
Snell feels honored to support Oats with his cleats, knowing anything he has to deal with in life is far less than what Oats goes through.
“It’s pretty special,” said Snell. “In my routine I try to keep people who have affected me in my life in my prayers. His name is constantly in my daily routine and my life. It’s very big. It’s very special. What he has going on is way bigger than me.
“Just to be able to live life, be in the NFL and use the resources I have to give back and put a spotlight on my former teammate goes a long way.”
What Oats is going through is something that has had an impact on Snell in how he handles his everyday life, knowing that he can handle things in a different manner than he always has.
“He impacted me in a humbling way,” said Snell. “He is a very nice guy. He would light up the room when he walked in. Very outgoing. Would introduce himself to people when he walked in the room. That humbles me because I don’t do that. I will be in my own little bubble sometimes and just being able to look at him and his story, it shows me what I have. I need to be thankful for what I have and be able to give more, say hi to people more, be happier. Things can be way worse. I took a humbling sensation from him.”
Cause: Mental Health Awareness
It’s not easy to step outside of your comfort zone and for many athletes, that comfort includes being protected by a tough exterior shell.
But Trent Scott knows sometimes that shell needs to be broken.
Scott is using his cleats for mental health awareness, a topic that isn’t always talked about in NFL locker rooms or by men in general.
“I just feel like it’s a thing that is always overlooked,” said Scott. “It’s been talked about more recently. I have had some family members who have dealt with mental health. It always stood out to me. I know it’s something we have to take a lot of care of.
“For men it’s hard to talk about. We have that thing about us being strong and dealing with things on our own. I think it’s good to talk to people, go to counseling, have anchors in our life. talk about things like that.
“The same for kids. They need to have an understanding at an early age they can talk to people about things like that and not keep it bottled up.”
Scott is quick to admit that in professional sports mental health issues are something athletes overlook in their self-care, simply because they don’t want to open up.
“In our profession you keep things to yourself,” said Scott. “The things we deal with, maintaining the level of high performance, dealing with injuries, and dealing with life outside of football. Being able to organize all of those things and have an outlet to talk about it is important.”
Mental health is something Scott makes a priority in his life now after dealing with those difficult issues early on in his career.
“When I was a rookie I dealt with it a lot,” said Scott. “Dealing with family back home. Making the transition to the NFL. Dealing with my surroundings. My third year I took it more seriously. It’s number one on my list of priorities now.
“I do stuff to take care of myself. I meditate. I make sure I get my quiet time. I talk to a counselor. I do those things and make sure I always stay grounded and use the anchors in my life, my immediate family, my wife and my daughter. I use those things and it’s huge.”
Cause: V Foundation for Cancer Research
The first time Robert Spillane heard Jim Valvano’s touching and tearjerking ESPY speech, it touched his heart.
“Don’t ever give up,” are words everyone remembers Valvano uttering.
What Valvano said resonated in Spillane’s heart and mind, and still to this day as it’s a speech he watches yearly and holds the values and message in his everyday life.
When Valvano shared words of wisdom of how life should be led, those words that touched everyone watching.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day,” said Valvano. “Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you can laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.”
That message is part of Spillane’s life and that is why he is supporting Valvano’s V Foundation for Cancer Research with his cleats this year, wanting to make sure he practices that message continuously.
“Ever since Jimmy V gave that speech, don’t ever give up,” said Spillane. “You want to laugh, think and cry every day. That struck a cord with me. I know the money goes to a great cause. I feel strongly about giving back, especially being in the position I am in as a highly compensated professional athlete. I want to help out he community anyway I can. I really appreciate what they are doing.
“Jimmy V stole my heart with that speech.”
Spillane is too young to remember Valvano’s coaching days at North Carolina State, but his courage during his battle with cancer, which he lost in 1993, not long after he delivered the speech, is what won his heart.
“I don’t remember him as a coach, but I listen to the speech every year,” said Spillane. “I try to live that life. I try to laugh, think and cry every day. That is part of my daily routine. I feel like feeling those emotions, feeling what is really going on, is important.”
The foundation was founded by ESPN and Valvano before he passed and the idea is to have ‘Victory over Cancer,’ something Spillane backs fully.
“I know many people in my family affected by cancer,” said Spillane. “We have seen cancer in our family. I try to give people love going through it. We have to move forward for cancer research. It makes it more personal that it touches my life.
“I want to be a well-rounded person who is not just a football player, but a family man who loves his family, who takes care of people, who tries to help people when in need and to learn more about yourself. I think that is our goal as humans to learn more about yourself, give back to others and try to give them knowledge, love and compassion when needed.”
Cause: Thumbs Up Mission, the Keaton Franklin Coker Foundation
Supporting Thumbs Up Mission is nothing new for Mitch Trubisky, as he has worn cleats in the past to support them as well as take part in other events the foundation has hosted.
The foundation was set up in honor of Keaton Coker, who was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and fought the battle for two years, before his passing. Keaton is the late brother of Trubisky’s college teammate at North Carolina, Kanler Coker, and he loves doing his part to help the cause.
“His family started the foundation, and they host retreats for families dealing with cancer,” said Trubisky. “They give back not only to whoever is going through the battle, but the families as well. The families are dealing with it too and it’s hard to afford vacations with the medical bills and everything. They are bringing the families together. They host them on weekend retreats and do memorable vacations for people.”
The retreats serve families where a parent or child has cancer, and the families must have school age children from kindergarten through 12th grade. The retreats focus on the family as a whole getting time off to take a vacation as the family unit.
“It’s special,” said Trubisky. “I have been to a couple of these retreats. Just to see the look on the families faces when they know NFL players are involved and how much good work the Coker family has done for these families, it’s really special. People have donated over the years, and I know the money is going to a great cause. I have seen the direct impact it has and what it means for the families.
“It means a lot bringing the attention and also helping out a good friend. They are such good people, and they are helping other people as well.”
Cause: Levi Wallace Foundation
For Levi Wallace, going to college wasn’t ever a question, but it also wasn’t a given for him.
Wallace was a walk-on at the University of Alabama, fortunate enough to be able to attend college because of his parent’s military service.
“I was a walk-on who was fortunate to get an opportunity with my dad and mom being in the military,” said Wallace. “I was able to go to school on a GI Bill.”
Wallace’s goal is to help as many kids as possible in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona to achieve their dream of a college education.
“The overall goal of the foundation is to send kids to college,” said Wallace. “The area I am from, Tucson, Arizona, there aren’t a lot of funds that go into the city. I want to give the kids opportunities. It breaks my heart to go there and so much of the area, people haven’t been outside of the city.
“I want to focus on kids that come from single family households. I lost my dad when I was 18. It created a new perspective for me. I can only imagine growing up with a single parent household. I want to give kids an advantage, a better opportunity.”
The relatively new foundation, founded last February, is in the process of providing scholarships for area students to help them grow the way he did when he went to college.
“I want to give more attention to Tucson, bring scouts out there, have tournaments and things like that to draw attention to the great players there,” said Wallace. “Phoenix is the big city and gets most of the attention. I want to hold events and use my platform to have people come look at the kids and motivate them. I was a walk on because I had to. I don’t want that for anyone else. If you can get a scholarship, do it. As long as your tuition is paid for, that is the goal.”
Wallace, who is six classes away from a second degree, always stresses the importance of education to kids.
“The best day is when I graduated from college,” said Wallace. “When I give out scholarships, it’s not just athletics, it’s academics as well for kids who want to further themselves through education. That is so important to me.”
While providing scholarships is the main goal, Wallace has started other programs, including holiday giveaways and a party on his birthday to celebrate area kids. He recently teamed with Austin Air Purifiers to donate seven air purifiers to the Boys & Girls Club of Western Pennsylvania through the foundation.
“I just wanted to be able to give these out and help them any way I could,” said Wallace. “We did that for my high school (Tucson High School) back in Arizona, donated air purifiers there. I grew up with asthma and couldn’t really breathe. It didn’t benefit me to play sports when I was younger. I just wanted to be able to give back to the community here, give the kids a chance to be able to breathe in healthy air.
“If we can minimize any risks, stop the flow of any kind of viruses, allergies and breathe better air, it’s so beneficial for kids.”
Wallace visited the B&G Club location in Carnegie where he provided the donation, as well as handed out Terrible Towels, signed pictures and spent time enjoying a pizza party with the kids.
“I want to be a part of Pittsburgh. I just want to give back to the community,” said Wallace. “It’s my passion. I love being around kids. My parents owned a daycare when I was growing up. I grew up in a daycare. We had a day care with 100 kids. My parents always had a love for kids and that just trickled down to me. I see the hard work they put in the community, how much they gave of themselves, so it was easy for me to follow in that path. I have a heart for kids, giving back to the community anyway that I can. I want to be a part of that. Now that I am in Pittsburgh, it’s important for me to get involved.”
Part of Wallace’s inspiration to give back is to honor his late father, Walter Wallace, who died of in 2014 of ALS when Levi was only 18.
“He was Superman in my life. There is no replacement,” said Wallace. “At a young age, 18, it rearranges everything. He did a great job of molding me into the man I am.
“I was very fortunate. I almost felt like he was preparing me for that just in case. Being the oldest child in my family, I feel like there was a lot more pressure. He did a great job showing me what it means to be a man. Take care of what you have to take care of. There were still so many questions I had for him. I didn’t have a girlfriend until that point, so you want to ask about relationships, how to shave, things like that.
“I pray a lot and ask God to let him come into my dreams just to hang out.”
Abigail Dean/Pittsburgh Steelers
Cause: Washington Local Schools Foundation
They say home is where the heart is, and that is why Chris Wormley is making sure it’s home that he is representing with his cleats this week.
Wormley is supporting the Washington Local Schools Foundation, the school district he attended, along with his wife Alexis, and many of his family members, in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio.
“I am doing my high school’s foundation,” said Wormley. “They started a foundation two years ago, Washington Local Schools Foundation. It’s to empower the youth in the community back in Toledo and the school district. I am really excited to be a part of it.”
Wormley’s family has a long history in the school district, which was a driving force in him wanting to help those who are still a part of it.
“They have not only given a lot to me, but to my wife, my brother and sister, my brother-in-law is in that same school district now,” said Wormley. “It’s not just me. It’s my family. My mom, aunts and uncles all went there too. It’s more than what they did for me for four years. It’s three generations of people that have benefited from the great work that they do and the education that is provided.”
And education is the number one aspect in all of it for Wormley. Wormley knows the school district has lost funding over the years, so the foundation was something that was necessary to give the kids the proper education they deserve.
“I think that is the basis of a child’s dream,” said Wormley. “They go to school, figure out what they want to do, what they are good at. If I can be a little small part of that, it’s huge.”
Wormley has been involved with the foundation in other fashions as well, proud to be able to give back to them. He also held a free football camp at Whitmer High School in Toledo over the summer.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t have much to give,” said Wormley. “Now I am in a position to not only give back and provide with financial things, but give wisdom and advice to the youth. That is why I had my camp there back in June. It’s to be a resource for kids, somebody to look up to. That was huge for me growing up.”