Take a look at the cleats of Seahawks players participating in the NFL's 'My Cause, My Cleats' initiative, as well as the causes, charities, foundations and campaigns they're supporting, and the artists who helped create their shoes.
On Sunday, during the game between the Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles, defensive end Frank Clark will look down at his newly-painted blue cleats and think of his grandmother, who passed away last year from bladder cancer.
"She was one of the best people I know—a church-going lady who was the strength of our family—who kept us all together," Clark said. "Even when she was sick, you could never tell it—never showed any signs of weakness."
Clark is honoring his grandmother, Valerie Davis, whose smiling picture is painted on his cleats, along with a sheen of glittery blue and gold, the color of bladder cancer. He is dedicating his efforts and his cleats to his grandmother and the American Cancer Society to bring attention to bladder cancer, a disease less well known than other cancers.
For the second consecutive season, the NFL is sponsoring "My Cause, My Cleats," and provided football players around the league a unique platform to share causes they're passionate about. It's an opportunity to tell a story and send a message to make an impact. Through the program, players customize their cleats and wear them on game day. It's not only to highlight a charity, but each shoe is a unique work of art, and each pair of cleats tell a story. Those stories reflect strength, perseverance, inspiration and often a personal story near and dear to the players.
"I wanted to honor my grandmother and raise awareness about bladder cancer," said Clark, who also raises funds for homeless women and families. "If I can use my status to bring awareness and help someone out, or create an interest, then I've done my job."
Cornerback Neiko Thorpe, who also plays on special teams, picked a handful of causes for his cleats, including Amniotic Band Syndrome, a congenital disorder in infants, a nod to Black Lives Matter and both bladder and breast cancer. Thorpe, nicknamed "E-ZZZ," said he added a bladder cancer ribbon to his cleats in honor of a Seahawks fan that he got to know before the fan died of the disease last year.
But breast cancer is one that took away his grandmother Shirley and his aunt Cheryl. In their honor, he wears a pink wrist band and pink laces in his cleats—something the NFL allows if you have a loved one fighting the disease. With two young daughters, ages 4 and 1, Thorpe said he wants to honor all women battling breast cancer and increase awareness for early detection and screening.
"I don't want anyone to think they are fighting alone," Thorpe said. "I have daughters and I know this will be important for them someday."
Last year, the initiative kicked off its inaugural year and this year more than 30 Seahawks are participating, supporting a range of causes from cancer to anti-bullying programs; from March of Dimes to Make-A-Wish.
The cleats are designed by local artists who work with each participating player. Some of the players will auction off their cleats for their charity. Other cleats are such works of art that some players want to create awareness, but hang on to the shoes for its personalized and personal story.
Before the game, players can wear personalized cleats for warm-ups. Sunday's game is the only time they can wear the personalized cleats during the game.
"I hope it helps—I hope it increases awareness for everyone," added Clark.
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