Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams is encouraging people to join him in the fight against breast cancer by registering for his Williams Warriors Komen Race for the Cure race team. The annual 5K event will be on Oct. 3, 2009 in uptown Charlotte. Members of the race team will receive an official Williams Warriors jersey courtesy of Belk, which designed the shirt in collaboration with Williams and his mother, Sandra Hill - a five-year breast cancer survivor.
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. My second sister found out in 1993 when she was pregnant. She died July 7, 2004. We lost my last sister in 2005," Hill said. "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."
Her persistence ultimately saved her life. Hill underwent a bi-lateral mastectomy and is here to talk about it today. Although when she 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. To further his efforts in battling the disease, he has teamed up with the Charlotte affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Belk to create a race team for this year's Komen Race for the Cure on Oct. 3 in uptown Charlotte.
"I'm encouraging survivors, family members and friends to join the Williams Warriors and help me fight breast cancer. I also want to stress how important it is for women to get tested annually. My family has experienced firsthand the impacts of the disease and the importance of early detection," Williams said.
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. 11 when they play the Washington Redskins at Bank of America Stadium.