Athletes give back: “My Cause My Cleats”

Elijah Kasten

More stories from Elijah Kasten


Photo courtesy of Mackenzie DiLima

Senior Karina Yung hits the ball over the net in the Dig Pink game against Whitman. The game is annual fundraiser in October to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Professional athletes, who are regularly labeled, criticized and under pressure, have some of their charitable acts lost and forgotten as they are routinely judged for their performances on the field. Most people only get to see one side of athletes – their athletic side, watching them perform year-round and getting to know them as a player. What people tend to  overlook is the other side – the life of players off the field, away from the hectic life that professional sports create. 

Many of these charitable acts occur throughout the calendar year but are most noticeable following Thanksgiving. 

A well-known charitable act took place throughout week 14 of the NFL season, where hundreds of players showcased their creatively designed football cleats that supported various causes and local organizations. This event, called My Cause My Cleats, was initiated back in 2016 and has gained recognition, with all proceeds going to each athlete’s cause. Fans can also bid on game-issued player cleats to help players raise money for their causes.   

“I remember the 2016 season when it started during week 13, and every game would bring new local organizations and charities. It is always interesting to learn about all these causes and how some of the causes connect to players and their lives since they were kids,” junior Zach Miller said.    

Locally, Washington Redskins players supported causes and organizations based in the DMV. 

Rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Matt Ioannidis supported Wolf Trap Animal Rescue, a local animal rescue organization located in Virginia and D.C. 

Redskins teammates Montez Sweat, Deshazor Everett and Steven Sims Jr. all sported cleats representing the Brem Foundation, an organization based in Silver Spring, Maryland that is devoted to fighting breast cancer.

“Many local organizations that were supported by Redskins players were some that I have heard of from living in this area for a while. It was cool to see how some of the biggest athletic figures have a relationship with some smaller, more local organizations,” junior Evan Calhoun said. 

Players like cornerback Quinton Dunbar showcased cleats promoting national causes like the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

As the range of organizations expands throughout the NFL, more causes are drawing support from fans across the country. Local organizations that profit regionally are now seeing prosperity from recognition across the U.S. 

What started as an idea to help create a platform for athletes to tell their stories, has been going strong for three years and has developed into something that players and fans look forward to each year.   

WJ sports teams have contributed to the community in the past with events that have not only raised money, but awareness as well.

Dig Pink, an annual event held by girls’ volleyball raises money through ticket sales, a rafle and bake sale in support of breast cancer research.

In recent years, baseball has raised money during the winter offseason towards Special Olympics Maryland, participating in the annual polar bear plunge.