Former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams lost his mother Sandra Hill to breast cancer in 2014, and afterwards he began doing his part so other women could be tested for the disease. He also lost four aunts to breast cancer, who all died before the age of 50.
So in 2015 Williams began paying for women to get mammogram screenings through his DeAngelo Williams Foundation, and he called the initiative “53 Strong for Sandra,” since his mom passed away at age 53. And 53 women get screened at every event.
Now four years later, Williams has paid for over 500 mammograms in hospitals located in Charlotte, N.C., Jonesboro, Ark., Memphis, Tenn. and Pittsburgh, Pa. And he has a goal to have the same screening events in every state.
“To be able to help all these women is amazing,” he said in a statement given to the “Today” show. “This can be life-changing for these women. We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to.”
Williams’ mom was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, and a few years later he was one of the key players to get the NFL to allow teams to wear pink during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.
According to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States next to skin cancer. And it’s estimated that in 2019 alone, there will be 271,270 new cases of breast cancer for women and 2,670 for men.
And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that “Black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, but black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than white women.”
“DeAngelo wants to ensure that no woman (or man) fights breast cancer alone,” said Williams’ wife Risalyn Williams in a statement made to “Today.”
She’s also the executive director of The DeAngelo Williams Foundation.