Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is encouraging fans to help him in the fight against breast cancer by registering for his Williams Warriors Komen Race for the Cure team. The annual 5K event will be on Oct. 2 in uptown Charlotte.
Fans can join the Williams Warriors online. Team members who register by Sept. 28 will receive a limited edition Williams Warriors T-shirt courtesy of Belk, which designed the shirt in collaboration with Williams.
Williams' Komen for the Cure initiative coincides with the NFL's national effort to support the fight against breast cancer. The league's core message during the month of October is to encourage women to be proactive in getting regular mammograms. This "get tested message" will be championed by the Panthers on Oct. 10 when they play the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium.
Last year, the community responded in overwhelming fashion as 575 people signed up to be on the Williams Warriors - the largest single team in the Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure, which generally has more than 10,000 participants. The Williams Warriors collectively raised nearly $40,000 for breast cancer research and support programs.
Williams' personal connection to breast cancer is well-documented. His mother, Sandra Hill, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2004. Unfortunately for her, it was not a total surprise. Tragically, she had already become familiar with the disease.
"My first sister was diagnosed at 27 and died at 33," Hill said. "My second sister found out in 1993 when she was pregnant. She died July 7, 2004. We lost my last sister in 2005.
"My breast cancer never showed up in a mammogram. After consulting with my primary care physician and discussing my family history, he ordered a biopsy."
Hill's persistence ultimately saved her life. She underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy and is here to talk about it today. Although when Hill was first diagnosed, she wasn't talking about it, at least to one person - her son. Williams was in college at the University of Memphis at the time.
"When she told me, she was already in remission," Williams said. "After she told me, I was relieved but also upset that she had waited so long to tell me. She told me she didn't want me to worry with everything I had going on in school."
Now they are both talking about it and, more importantly, doing something about it. Williams' concerns for his sisters and his family's next generations prompted him to establish the DeAngelo Williams Foundation to develop and seek initiatives to support the eradication of breast cancer through preventative care and research.
"I'm encouraging survivors, family members and friends to join the Williams Warriors and help me fight breast cancer," Williams said. I also want to stress how important it is for women to get tested annually. My family has experienced first-hand the impacts of the disease and the importance of early detection."