Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Gridiron Givers play hard on, off field to support important charities

BARRY GOODRICH

The five breast cancer survivors who served as honorary coin toss captains for the Cleveland Browns - Buffalo Bills game are (from left to right): Bridgett Norton, Julie Hoxworth, Ellen Perez, Robin Sawyer and Julie Nathanson. The women joined Browns' legend Jim Brown on the field before the game. (Photograph by Jennifer Nawalaniec.)

The five breast cancer survivors who served as honorary coin toss captains for the Cleveland Browns – Buffalo Bills game are (from left to right): Bridgett Norton, Julie Hoxworth, Ellen Perez, Robin Sawyer and Julie Nathanson. The women joined Browns’ legend Jim Brown on the field before the game. (Photograph by Jennifer Nawalaniec.)

The Cleveland Browns’ importance to the Northeast Ohio community extends well beyond the football field. Winning may be of prime importance in the National Football League but when it comes to working alongside worthy causes, caring takes precedence.

The Browns are deeply involved in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month throughout October during the fifth straight year of the NFL and NFL Players Association’s A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society. The team hosted the League’s first official breast cancer awareness game of the 2013 season under a national spotlight during its Thursday Night Football game against Buffalo earlier this month.

During pre-game ceremonies, the Browns recognized five breast cancer survivors, who served as honorary coin toss captains along with Pro Football Hall of Famer and Cleveland legend Jim Brown. The team also welcomed approximately 80 additional breast cancer survivors and loved ones from the Cleveland Clinic and other local hospitals, who unfurled a symbolic pink ribbon flag on the field prior to the game. Prior to the game, Browns’ personnel and members of the Zeta Tau Alpha alumnae and collegiate members distributed 25,000 pink ribbons.

The Browns continued to advocate breast cancer awareness with a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk held Oct. 12 at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“We’re proud to partner with the American Cancer Society and raise awareness for fans, cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families,” said Cleveland Browns director of community relations Jenner Takancic. “While it may be most visible in October, we and the NFL are committed to this important initiative throughout the year, encouraging women to get screened and access the resources available to them.”

In September, several Browns players players, including Jordan Cameron, John Hughes, Spencer Lanning, Shawn Lauvao, Leon McFadden and Craig Robertson joined members of the Browns Women’s Organization to host cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families and friends from Cleveland Clinic and local hospitals for the American Cancer Society’s “Look Good, Feel Better” program at FirstEnergy Stadium’s Legends Club. Patients currently undergoing treatments learned beauty techniques and received complimentary makeup kits, courtesy of the American Cancer Society.

Beginning with the Browns-Bills game through week seven of the season, NFL games will feature game balls with pink ribbon decals, pink kicking tees, pink equipment for players, pink sideline caps for coaches and sideline personnel and pink goal post padding in the end zones, all a part of the A Crucial Catch: Annual Screening Saves Lives campaign.

Select game-used items will be available on NFL Auction NFL.com/auction throughout the month with all net proceeds going to benefit the American Cancer Society. Special pink merchandise, including Browns’ gear, is available at NFLshop.com.

For the Browns, community outreach programs are a year-round commitment. Last year, coaches, players and staff donated more than 2,000 hours of their time for programs involved in citizenship, education, health and wellness and youth football.

During training camp, Kids of the Browns raised more than $1,300 by hosting a lemonade stand. All proceeds went to benefit The Littlest Hero organization, which benefits local families with children who have been diagnosed with cancer. The team is also involved with the Touchdown for Reading Program, held in partnership with the Cuyahoga County Public Library and Cleveland Clinic, an online reading program for students in grades K-8.

The Browns are also the driving force behind the ceREAL Food Drive, which encourages students, teachers and entire schools to collect cereal or monetary donations to support those in need in the community. From Nov. 3-15, schools that register through the Cleveland Foodbank will earn points for donations with the top 100 students earning the most points winning a trip to FirstEnergy Stadium on Nov. 26.

So, no matter what the standings say, consider the Browns big winners in the only game that really matters — life.

 

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