When Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Cameron Heyward takes the field on Monday against Washington, he’ll do so while wearing custom-painted cleats (pictured above) that honor the memory of his father and support The V Foundation for Cancer Research. Heyward—like many of his Steelers teammates—will be participating in the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats initiative, which will see more than 500 players wear custom cleats in support of a cause during the league’s Week 13 games.
As you may recall, Cam’s dad was Craig ‘Ironhead’ Heyward, who played fullback in the NFL for 11 seasons before brain cancer ended his career in 1998 at the age of 32. He eventually passed away from cancer at the age of 39 in 2006.
Cam’s cleats will be auctioned off (via NFL Auction) to raise money for The V Foundation, with 100 percent of the funds going to the charity. The V Foundation for Cancer Research was founded in 1993 by ESPN & the late Jim Valvano, the legendary North Carolina State University basketball coach and ESPN commentator.
“I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work together,” said Cam Heyward in a media release. “The Jimmy V Foundation represents perseverance and strives [to] move cancer research forward. As the people running the foundation want to make Jimmy V proud, I want the same on behalf of my dad who also suffered from cancer. Hopefully we continue to make them proud.”
Craig Heyward played for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Atlanta Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Indianapolis Colts during his 11 years in the NFL. He was a Pro Bowler in 1995 with the Falcons, when he rushed the ball 236 times for 1,083 yards and six touchdowns. In 149 games in the NFL, he carried the ball 1,031 times for 4,301 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also had 177 career catches for 1,559 yards and four touchdown receptions.
Joe Haden’s Cause: Special Olympics
Meanwhile, many of Cam Heyward’s teammates will also be supporting causes that are very personal to them, including starting cornerback Joe Haden, who is supporting Special Olympics in honor of his brother, Jacob Haden, who is five years younger and a Special Olympian. According to Steelers.com, “the younger Haden has a cognitive disorder which affects his ability to speak and communicate verbally.”
Alejandro Villanueva’s Cause: Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Then there’s left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, who will be highlighting the work of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, which provides support for families of severely wounded and fallen soldiers, focusing mainly on providing educational aid to the surviving children of special operations personnel. The foundation also provides financial grants to combat-wounded special operations personnel and their families.
Villanueva won a victory of sorts this past Friday, when President Trump signed bipartisan legislation that cleared the way for late war hero Alwyn C. Cashe to receive the Medal of Honor. Villanueva raised awareness for the effort to award Cashe the Medal of Honor when he started displaying the Iraqi War vet’s name on the back of his helmet beginning with the 2020 season opener against the New York Giants.
Some of the other Steelers participating in the My Cause, My Cleats initiative on Monday are:
Safety Terrell Edmunds (Fight Against Racism)
OLB Alex Highsmith (The END IT Movement)
QB Josh Dobbs (The National Alopecia Areata Foundation and Girls Inc.)
Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
• Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger ‘Questionable’ vs. Washington
• Sack-Happy Steelers Can Tie NFL Record vs. Washington
• Ex-Steelers Cornerback Thriving With Titans
• Steelers’ T.J. Watt Wins AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November