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The NFL let players break a rule this weekend. About shoes. For a good cause.

Sports fan or not, here's something we can all cheer for.

The NFL let players break a rule this weekend. About shoes. For a good cause.

In 2013, Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears took the field wearing bright green cleats — and was fined $10,500 for it.

He stood by his decision because he knew how important those green kicks could be to people watching the game. Two years prior, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. He decided that during the Bears' Oct. 10 game that year — a nationally televised game against the New York Giants — he'd wear green cleats to draw attention to Mental Health Awareness Week.

$10,500 is the fine the league charged him with for violating its strict dress code.


Photo by David Banks/Getty Images.

"Football is my platform not my purpose," he tweeted in response to notice of his fine. "This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised."

The first weekend in December 2016, you may have noticed huddles looking less like this:

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images.

And instead, a lot more ... colorful:

The shoes of Andy Dalton, Rex Burkhead, and Brandon LaFell, all of the Cincinnati Bengals. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

So what gives? Did every player get served a $10,500 fine for their colorful cause-worthy footwear?

On one hand, if players can use their gigantic platform and audience of millions to draw attention to a good cause, that's a good thing, right? On the other, the point of uniforms is to be, well, uniform with everyone else on your team.

It's actually part of a compromise worked out by the NFL and players like Marshall who want to draw attention to good causes. It's called #MyCauseMyCleats. For one week of the season, the league is giving players the chance to sidestep the league's uniform policy to wear customized cleats repping the cause of their choice.

After the games are over, these one-of-a-kind pieces of field-worn footwear are being auctioned off — with 100% of the proceeds going to the players' charities of choice.

Here are some of the super creative designs and the charities that inspired them:

1. Chris Conley of the Kansas City Chiefs supports Enduring Hearts, an organization aligned with the American Heart Association.

2. Eric Berry, also of the Chiefs, supports raising Hodgkin’s lymphoma awareness.

3. Jimmy Smith of the Baltimore Ravens sports cleats with the motto "Sideline Racism" for the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE).

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

4. Mark Ingram of the New Orleans Saints shows support for the Mark Ingram Foundation, an organization for children with incarcerated parents.

5. Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers reps Big Brothers Big Sisters cleats.

6. Marcell Dareus of the Buffalo Bills gives the American Heart Association his backing.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

7. Steve Smith of the Baltimore Ravens takes a stand against domestic violence.

8. Morgan Cox, also of the Ravens, supports the Colleen's Dream Foundation, an ovarian cancer research organization.

9. Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs supports his 87 and Running charity for disadvantaged youth.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.

10. Rex Burkhead of the Cincinnati Bengals wears these cleats for the Team Jack Foundation against child cancer.

11. Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams reps Waterboys, an organization dedicated to providing clean water to people in East Africa.

12. Vance McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers supports Convoy of Hope, an anti-poverty organization.

Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images.

13. Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons honors Children's Healthcare of Atlanta with his footwear.

14. Von Miller of the Denver Broncos throws his support behind his charitable organization Von's Vision, which brings eye care to low-income children.

15. Golden Tate of the Detroit Lions gave a shout out to his Golden Future Foundation to supporting veterans.

Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images.

16. Pierre Garçon of the Washington Redskins highlighted his Helping Hands Foundation for people in Haiti.

17. Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks gave a boost to his Why Not You Foundation to support children.

18. Michael Thomas of the Miami Dolphins donned cleats during his pre-game ritual to call out police brutality.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

19. David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals took on bullying with his Stomp Out Bullying cleats.

20. DeAndre Hopkins of the Houston Texans used his footwear to call for an end to domestic violence.

21. Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants drew attention to the Haiti Relief Fund.

Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images.

22. Roman Harper of the New Orleans Saints demonstrated his commitment to children's education and mentorship with a bump to his Harper's Hope Foundation.

23. Derrick Johnson of the Kansas City Chiefs gave props to his Defend the Dream Foundation for low-income individuals.

24. Rodney McLeod of the Philadelphia Eagles helped out disadvantaged children with a shout-out to the Audience of One charity.

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

25. Shaq Lawson of the Buffalo Bills wanted to bring attention to cystic fibrosis with his shoes.

26. Julius Thomas of the Jacksonville Jaguars put a foot forward for Episcopal Children's Services.

27. Odell Beckham, Jr. of the New York Giants wore some cartoon-heavy cleats for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images.

28. Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins showed support for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

29. And finally, Brandon Marshall, now playing for the New York Jets, laced up his green cleats to again bring some much-needed attention to mental health awareness — this time without a fine.

Marshall's shoe-based activism was cool when he got fined, but it's even better when the money raised goes toward helping his cause.

Hundreds of players across the league participated, teaming up with artists to craft the perfect messages in support of their cause of choice, and the results, as you can see, are phenomenal.

On the NFL's website, players shared personal stories about why they're passionate about the causes they've chosen to support. For some, it's a throwback to their own childhood or an illness facing a family member; for others, it's just about giving back to those in need. Creative approaches to bringing attention to positive causes is always a big win.

For a look at all the cleats, check out NFL.com.

via Lever Du Ciné / YouTube and Josiah Robles / Twitter

One of the most touching moments in Disney's "Toy Story" series is in the third film when 17-year-old Andy goes off to college, leaving his beloved toys behind to a young girl named Bonnie. It's the moment when he's forced to put the things of childhood behind and make his way in the world as an adult.

Before driving off in his car, he gives Bonnie his favorite toy, Woody, and the two play together with his toys for one last time. While he's excited to move on to go to school, his heart is clearly heavy with the knowledge of everything he's leaving behind.

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via Lever Du Ciné / YouTube and Josiah Robles / Twitter

One of the most touching moments in Disney's "Toy Story" series is in the third film when 17-year-old Andy goes off to college, leaving his beloved toys behind to a young girl named Bonnie. It's the moment when he's forced to put the things of childhood behind and make his way in the world as an adult.

Before driving off in his car, he gives Bonnie his favorite toy, Woody, and the two play together with his toys for one last time. While he's excited to move on to go to school, his heart is clearly heavy with the knowledge of everything he's leaving behind.

Keep Reading Show less
True

Each year, an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States are affected by cancer — most commonly cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, and blood cancers such as leukemia. While not everyone overcomes the disease, thanks to science, more people are surviving — and for longer — than ever before in history.

We asked three people whose lives have been impacted by cancer to share their stories – how their lives were changed by the disease, and how they're using that experience to change the future of cancer treatments with the hope that ultimately, in the fight against cancer, science will win. Here's what they had to say.

Celine Ryan, 55, engineer database programmer and mother of five from Detroit, MI

Photo courtesy of Celine Ryan

In September 2013, Celine Ryan woke up from a colonoscopy to some traumatic news. Her gastroenterologist showed her a picture of the cancerous mass they found during the procedure.

Ryan and her husband, Patrick, had scheduled a colonoscopy after discovering some unusual bleeding, so the suspicion she could have cancer was already there. Neither of them, however, were quite prepared for the results to be positive -- or for the treatment to begin so soon. Just two days after learning the news, Ryan had surgery to remove the tumor, part of her bladder, and 17 cancerous lymph nodes. Chemotherapy and radiation soon followed.

Ryan's treatment was rigorous – but in December 2014, she got the devastating news that the cancer, once confined to her colon, had spread to her lungs. Her prognosis, they said, was likely terminal.

But rather than give up hope, Ryan sought support from online research, fellow cancer patients and survivors, and her medical team. When she brought up immunotherapy to her oncologist, he quickly agreed it was the best course of action. Ryan's cancer, like a majority of colon and pancreatic cancers, had been caused by a defect on the gene KRAS, which can result in a very aggressive cancer that is virtually "undruggable." According to the medical literature, the relatively smooth protein structure of the KRAS gene meant that designing inhibitors to bind to surface grooves and treat the cancer has been historically difficult. Through her support systems, Ryan discovered an experimental immunotherapy trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD., and called them immediately to see if she was eligible. After months of trying to determine whether she was a suitable candidate for the experimental treatment, Ryan was finally accepted.

The treatment, known as tumor-infiltrating lymphocyte therapy, or TIL, is a testament to how far modern science has evolved. With this therapy, doctors remove a tumor and harvest special immune cells that are found naturally in the tumor. Doctors then grow the cells in a lab over the next several weeks with a protein that promotes rapid TIL growth – and once the cells number into the billions, they are infused back into the patient's body to fight the cancer. On April 1, 2015, Ryan had her tumor removed at the NIH. Two months later, she went inpatient for four weeks to have the team "wash out" her immune system with chemotherapy and infuse the cells – all 148 billion of them – back into her body.

Six weeks after the infusion, Ryan and Patrick went back for a follow-up appointment – and the news they got was stunning: Not only had no new tumors developed, but the six existing tumors in her lungs had shrunk significantly. Less than a year after her cell infusion, in April 2016, the doctors told Ryan news that would have been impossible just a decade earlier: Thanks to the cell infusion, Ryan was now considered NED – no evaluable disease. Her body was cancer-free.

Ryan is still NED today and continuing annual follow-up appointments at the NIH, experiencing things she never dreamed she'd be able to live to see, such as her children's high school and college graduations. She's also donating her blood and cells to the NIH to help them research other potential cancer treatments. "It was an honor to do so," Ryan said of her experience. "I'm just thrilled, and I hope my experience can help a lot more people."

Patrice Lee, PhD, VP of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Exploratory Development at Pfizer

Photo courtesy of Patrice Lee

Patrice Lee got into scientific research in an unconventional way – through the late ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau.

Lee never met Cousteau but her dreams of working with him one day led her to pursue a career in science. Initially, Lee completed an undergraduate degree in marine biology; eventually, her interests changed and she decided to get a dual doctoral degree in physiology and toxicology at Duke University. She now works at Pfizer's R&D site in Boulder, CO (formerly Array BioPharma), leading a group of scientists who determine the safety and efficacy of new oncology drugs.

"Scientists focused on drug discovery and development in the pharmaceutical industry are deeply committed to inventing new therapies to meet unmet needs," Lee says, describing her field of work. "We're driven to achieve new medicines and vaccines as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety."

Among the drugs Lee has helped develop during her career, including cancer therapies, she says around a dozen are currently in development, while nine have received FDA approval — an incredible accomplishment as many scientists spend their careers without seeing their drug make it to market. Lee's team is particularly interested in therapies for brain metastases — something that Lee says is a largely unmet need in cancer research, and something her team is working on from a variety of angles. "Now that we've had rapid success with mRNA vaccine technology, we hope to explore what the future holds when applying this technology to cancers," Lee says.

But while evaluating potential cancer therapies is a professional passion of Lee's, it's also a mission that's deeply personal. "I'm also a breast cancer survivor," she says. "So I've been on the other side of things and have participated in a clinical trial."

However, seeing how melanoma therapies that she helped develop have affected other real-life cancer patients, she says, has been a highlight of her career. "We had one therapy that was approved for patients with BRAF-mutant metastatic melanoma," Lee recalls. "Our team in Boulder was graced by a visit from a patient that had benefited from these drugs that we developed. It was a very special moment for the entire team."

None of these therapies would be available, Lee says without rigorous science behind it: "Facts come from good science. Facts will drive the development of new drugs, and that's what will help patients."

Chiuying "Cynthia" Kuk (they/them) MS, 34, third-year medical student at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine

Photo courtesy of Cynthia Kuk

Cynthia Kuk was just 10 years old when they had a conversation that would change their life forever.

"My mother, who worked as a translator for the government at the time, had been diagnosed with breast cancer, and after her chemotherapy treatments she would get really sick," Kuk, who uses they/them pronouns, recalls. "When I asked my dad why mom was puking so much, he said it was because of the medicine she was taking that would help her get better."

Kuk's response was immediate: "That's so stupid! Why would a medicine make you feel worse instead of better? When I'm older, I want to create medicine that won't make people sick like that."

Nine years later, Kuk traveled from their native Hong Kong to the United States to do exactly that. Kuk enrolled in a small, liberal arts college for their Bachelor's degree, and then four years later started a PhD program in cancer research. Although Kuk's mother was in remission from her cancer at the time, Kuk's goal was the same as it had been as a 10-year-old watching her suffer through chemotherapy: to design a better cancer treatment, and change the landscape of cancer research forever.

Since then, Kuk's mission has changed slightly.

"My mom's cancer relapsed in 2008, and she ended up passing away about five years after that," Kuk says. "After my mom died, I started having this sense of urgency. Cancer research is such that you work for twenty years, and at the end of it you might have a fancy medication that could help people, but I wanted to help people now." With their mother still at the forefront of their mind, Kuk decided to quit their PhD program and enter medical school.

Now, Kuk plans to pursue a career in emergency medicine – not only because they are drawn to the excitement of the emergency room, but because the ER is a place where the most marginalized people tend to seek care.

"I have a special interest in the LGBTQ+ population, as I identify as queer and nonbinary," says Kuk. "A lot of people in this community and other marginalized communities access care through the ER and also tend to avoid medical care since there is a history of mistreatment and judgement from healthcare workers. How you carry yourself as a doctor, your compassion, that can make a huge difference in someone's care."

In addition to making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ+ patients, Kuk wants to make a difference in the lives of patients with cancer as well, like their mother had.

"We've diagnosed patients in the Emergency Department with cancer before," Kuk says. "I can't make cancer good news but how you deliver bad news and the compassion you show could make a world of difference to that patient and their family."

During their training, Kuk advocates for patients by delivering compassionate and inclusive care, whether they happen to have cancer or not. In addition to emphasizing their patient's pronouns and chosen names, they ask for inclusive social and sexual histories as well as using gender neutral language. In doing this, they hope to make medicine as a whole more accessible for people who have been historically pushed aside.

"I'm just one person, and I can't force everyone to respect you, if you're marginalized," Kuk says. "But I do want to push for a culture where people appreciate others who are different from them."