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Carolina Panthers

Williams always thinks pink


CHARLOTTE - For Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams, pink is personal.

Because of that, Williams wants to make pink and all that it stands for as public as possible.

As a part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Williams and many of his teammates will sport pink attire Sunday when the Panthers host the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium.

Williams is a pioneer in pink. In the summer of 2009, Williams asked Riley Fields, Panthers director of community relations, if he thought the NFL might consider letting players wear pink cleats in addition to other pink apparel the league already planned to allow.

"It's amazing to see where DeAngelo's idea has gone, from a simple conversation in June of 2009 to Brett Favre wearing pink cleats on Monday Night Football a few months later," Fields said. "Players across the league have embraced this show of support."

It's a cause close to Williams' heart. His mother, Sandra Hill, is a breast cancer survivor, but the disease has claimed four of his aunts.

"Whether you're directly or indirectly affected by it, you know what it means when you put on the pink," Williams said. "When I put it on, I wear it because of my aunts and my mom and for everyone that has been diagnosed and those that have beat it.

"I feel that those battling cancer are the real warriors and soldiers. They're the ones we really wear pink for."

Before boarding an airplane for Chicago last Saturday, Williams served as honorary starter for the 2011 Komen Charlotte Race for the Cure. Williams Warriors, his massive team entry in the 15th annual event, will present a check for $40,000 to Komen Charlotte at Sunday's game.

That's just one way pink will be prominent Sunday.


Players, coaches and game officials will all adorn pink, and many of their game-worn items will be auctioned off at Proceeds will benefit the American Cancer Society (ACS), the NFL's principle partner in its "A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives" campaign. The Panthers will recognize ACS for its continuing contributions Sunday.

Fans also will be able to sport some pink thanks to the Zeta Tau Alpha women's fraternity, which plans to distribute 70,000 pink ribbons at the Bank of America Stadium gates.

At halftime, Tim Halperin, one of the final 12 male contestants on Season 10 of American Idol, will perform his breast cancer awareness anthem, "We Fight Back."

And before the game, the Charlotte Fire Department will have its Pink Lady fire truck on display on Mint Street, and 35 female firefighters wearing pink helmets will present the American flag for the national anthem.

To Williams, who also wore pink as part of the Bears' awareness efforts last Sunday, the parade of pink is sure to serve is purpose.

"It's huge, being able to look around and see all the pink," he said. "I just had a lady the other day stop and tell me, 'Because of what she saw during the game, I'm going to go get examined.' After she walked off, I was thinking that if we reach one, we reach a million or we reach millions, we're doing our job.

"Pink is not just a color; it's a lifesaver."

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