Professional sports leagues leveraging their platforms to raise awareness and support various charitable causes is certainly nothing new or unfamiliar.
We’ve all seen leagues like Major League Baseball wearing pink to support breast cancer research on Mother’s Day, blue to raise awareness about prostate cancer on Father’s Day, and many more.
One league that continues to go above and beyond is the NFL, with its impactful Crucial Catch campaign. Done in partnership with the American Cancer Society, the NFL and ACS announced the initiative will be expanding this year, and among other things, will be awarding $3.2 million in new grants to community health centers around the nation to reduce disparities in access to adequate breast cancer prevention and treatment services.
Started in 2009, the Crucial Catch campaign focuses on early detection and risk reduction, as opposed to some other charitable efforts that may be more geared toward research and/or funding for proper treatment and aftercare. Those are certainly equally important, yet as the Crucial Catch website says, “when it comes to cancer, the NFL and American Cancer Society know that offense is the best defense.”
“This year, marking our 10th of working with the NFL and it’s Crucial Catch initiative, we’ve raised over $18 million to fight cancer,” American Cancer Society Chief Development and Marketing Officer Sharon Byers said.
She is proud of additional achievements, like the 201 grants they’ve been able to award across all NFL markets; the 632,000 patients they’ve been able to reach with education and screening materials; and upwards of 138,000 cancer screenings they’ve had a hand in supporting.
Another unique element of the partnership is that all the funds raised through Crucial Catch are directed toward the ACS Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grant for Empowerment and Equity program (CHANGE). That’s particularly important because it’s through this program that the ACS works to fight cancer in communities that might otherwise get forgotten or overlooked.
“CHANGE is fighting for every life in every community, and has made it a priority to address the critical importance of health disparities and lack of adequate care for some populations,” Byers mentioned. The program uses data to target communities that have lower screening and higher mortality rates, fulfilling the ACS and NFL mission of improving healthcare equality nationwide.
This year, the Crucial Catch campaign will be awarding two-year grants to 32 community health centers — one for each NFL market. The Defender app was also added to the plethora of resources they already provide, as it is “a new tool that provides personalized tips on how to reduce your risk of cancer” and is available to everybody.
Further showcasing the work done by the ACS through its partnership with the NFL, Byers noted the Sun Safety Initiative the two worked on this summer, in which free sunscreen was given out at training camps across the nation.
NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaacson, for one, loved the effort, as it “expands out Crucial Catch campaign with ACS, allowing us to increase our impact in the cancer space and address issues like the link between sun exposure and skin cancer risk.”
The American Cancer Society and National Football League continue their great work together using campaigns such as these to enact meaningful change.