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Cardinals Ready For My Cause, My Cleats Game

NFL initiative gives players chance to highlight their charities 

Some of the cleats the Cardinals will wear for their My Cause My Cleats game.
Some of the cleats the Cardinals will wear for their <a href="" target="_blank">My Cause My Cleats game</a>.

When Matt Prater kicks off on Sunday against the Steelers, fans are going to quickly notice that he's not wearing his usual, simple black and red Nike cleats.

They'll instead see a bright pink cleat with white ribbons wrapped around and Madelyn's Fund written underneath the Nike Swoosh.

Madelyn's Fund is an organization started by former Cardinals punter Andy Lee in honor of his daughter, who passed away after being taken into a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The fund financially supports NICU families, which is why Prater wanted to recognize his former teammate's efforts through the My Cause My Cleats initiative.

"It's something I felt like I could do just to be appreciative and give thanks for Andy and his family as well," Prater said. "Once we wear them, I'll donate them to his charity."

Players throughout the league will honor foundations, organizations, and important initiatives that they want to bring light to. Four coaches and more than 20 players on the Cardinals have designed shoes/cleats recognizing causes both locally and internationally.

"I think it's cool where guys can express something that's important to them or their family or close loved ones," Prater said. "It's an important way to kind of bring awareness to different things."

Linebacker Victor Dimukeje will break out an orange cleat representing "The Uprise," paying homage to Africa and providing better opportunities for athletes there.

Linebacker Cameron Thomas wanted to be a part of the design process for his cleat, which sheds light on ALS. In July of 2018, Thomas' uncle was diagnosed with the disease, and the only thing he could remember was the famous ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took the internet by storm in 2014. The challenge is featured in his design.

Thomas wanted to support his uncle and others that are dealing with the disease.

"Just knowing all the other families that have also gone through this, that's something I definitely want to bring more awareness to and it's something that means something to me, and I know means a lot to other people," Thomas said. "People that see the cleats and see 'ALS' might not be able to put it together, but they'll see the ice bucket and they're like 'Okay, I remember that.'"

This is a time on the calendar that Thomas said players look forward to because of the opportunity to do something creative and powerful.

"This is the one week where we get to express ourselves and get a different connection to the players that fans might not see," Thomas said. "These things you might not know about the players start to show up and you get a better sense of who these players are and what they and their families go through."

When offensive lineman Paris Johnson Jr. was approached with the idea of designing a cleat for the Week 13 matchup against the Steelers, he was thankful that he was allowed to showcase multiple organizations. One side of the cleat will feature his own organization, The Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation, that has the mission to empower disabled veterans and disadvantaged athletes. The other side will be the Pat Tillman Foundation, with whom Johnson's father played with with the Cardinals in 1999.

"As soon as I heard that I was able to pick two, his (Tillman's) was number one on my list because my whole life, I've known about him," Johnson said. "My mom had a couple of interactions to see how humble he was and how much of a leader he was. I've always had so much respect for him, even though I never got a chance to meet him."

Tillman's legacy has remained a staple in the Johnson household. On Sunday, an American flag along with a silhouette of Tillman and Johnson will be seen on his cleats. He said the cleats resemble his "Why."

"I play this game in the first place because I love football," Johnson said. "I want to use the platform that we have as players to speak about things outside of the game, impacting people's lives whether that's people who serve or whether that's the next person to play high school football, college football, or the NFL.

"I think this gives us a platform to talk about bringing great awareness to important thing and I feel like it's a calling for myself, and I'm sure for plenty people around the league and in the locker room."

Table inside Article
Player Cause Organization
OL Kelvin Beachum Clean Water Access World Vision
S Joey Blount Gun Violence D'Sean Perry Spirit of Cavaliers
RB Michael Carter Cancer American Cancer Society
CB Kei'Trel Clark Mental Health Men's X Mental
LB Zaven Collins Military Support Special Forces Foundation
OL Trystan Colon Autism Autism Speaks
RB James Conner Cancer Research Conner Strong Foundation
WR Kaden Davis Cancer American Cancer Society
LB Victor Dimukeje Awareness/Opportunity The Uprise
DL Leki Fotu Disabillities American Diabetes Association
LB Dennis Gardeck Disabillities Mikey's League
P Blake Gillikin Childhood Cancer THON
OL Paris Johnson Jr. Military Support Pat Tillman Foundation & Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation
RB Tony Jones Jr. Cancer Headstrong Foundation
DL Jonathan Ledbetter Community Outreach Black Women's Health Imperative
LB Jesse Luketa Community Outreach NFL RISE
TE Trey McBride Community Outreach Golden Stars
OL Carter O'Donnell Conservation Ducks Unlimited
K Matt Prater Youth Health/Wellness Madelyn's Fund
DL Kevin Strong Cancer American Cancer Society
LB Cameron Thomas Disease Prevention ALS Association
S Jalen Thompson Community Outreach Boys & Girls Club
OL Elijah Wilkinson Disease Awareness Michael J. Fox Foundation
LB Josh Woods Community Outreach Woodsy Loves Da Kids, LLC