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DeAngelo Williams: Former NFL star covers cost of 500 mammograms to honour late mother

Chelsea Ritschel

A former NFL player has paid for the costs of mammograms for more than 500 women, after his mother passed away from breast cancer in 2014.

DeAngelo Williams lost his mother Sandra Hill to the disease when she was just 53 years old, after losing four of his aunts to breast cancer as well.

In 2015, the former Pittsburgh Steelers running back made it his mission to raise breast cancer awareness by launching the 53 Strong for Sandra program through the DeAngelo Williams Foundation.

The event, which offers free mammograms, has since provided cancer screenings to more than 500 women in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Memphis, Tennessee, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

In addition to covering the costs of the screening, the foundation also pays for follow-up appointments and treatments if needed. The goal is to eventually be able to provide free screenings to women in every state, according to Williams.

"To be able to help all these women is amazing. This can be life-changing for these women," Williams told Today. "We are enabling them to get this care that no one should ever be denied or not have access to."

In addition to helping women through 53 Strong for Sandra, Williams was also influential in raising awareness of breast cancer through his career as a pro football player.

In 2009, the former NFL player led the push for the football league to recognise October as Breast Cancer Awareness month by allowing the players to wear pink cleats.

“It's not just about October for me; it's not just a month, it's a lifestyle," he told ESPN in 2015. 'It's about getting women to recognise to get tested.”

In the US, mammograms cost an average of $102 for uninsured patients, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The cancer screenings are recommended yearly for women over the age of 40.

On social media, Williams’ dedication to battling breast cancer has been praised.

“This is the type of story that we need to see much more of… a young man that is turning personal tragedy into the benefit of countless others,” one person wrote.

Another said: “Amazing. On behalf of all women, thank you.”

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