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ACS and NFL Crucial Catch partnership amplified at NFL Draft in Detroit

A week of exciting events demonstrated shared commitment to health equity.

Since 2009, the National Football League (NFL) and the American Cancer Society have teamed up to fight cancer and save lives through the Crucial Catch initiative, which helps more people catch cancer early, and addresses the unequal burden of cancer in under-resourced communities. 

During the 2024 NFL Draft week in Detroit, the league and ACS collaborated on a series of events to amplify the partnership and the shared commitment to health equity.

NFL Draft Week Pre-events

On April 22, the NFL, Detroit Lions, American Cancer Society, Henry Ford Health, and local community health center The Wellness Plan, hosted a healing arts activity for cancer patients and mammogram recipients. Research suggests art therapy helps relieve the emotional concerns of a cancer diagnosis. The visit was meant to demonstrate the partnership commitment to health equity during Minority Health Month and highlight the importance of early detection and effective follow-up care for improving breast cancer outcomes.  Henry Ford Health and The Wellness Plan are recent recipients of an American Cancer Society Links to Care grant funded and made possible by the NFL’s Crucial Catch initiative.

On April 23, ACS team members in Southeast Michigan hosted the Game Changer panel event at the Detroit Pistons practice facility to bring together 75 influential members of the community for a closed “friend-making” event. The panel featured NFL retired players and future draftees who provided insights from their NFL Draft experiences and shared their personal connections to cancer. 

ACS Senior Executive Director of Michigan Jenni Beamer provided insight on cancer progress and needs in the market, encouraging attendees to keep conversations going to find solutions together. As an extension of the NFL’s partnership, the panel was moderated by our NFL partner, Communications Coordinator A’maiya Allen. 

NFL Draft Days, April 26 -27 

The NFL leveraged its draft stage platform, in front of a record-breaking number of attendees in Detroit, to highlight the causes it supports. The league invited a mother daughter duo, both breast cancer survivors, to join the event for a truly memorable experience that included backstage access to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and one of their sports heroes, Detroit Lions running back legend Barry Sanders, both pictured at right. The survivors also had the opportunity to share their story and highlight the importance of early detection, a key component of the NFL Crucial Catch.

On the final day of the draft festivities, ACS was proudly represented on the stage by a pediatric cancer survivor who lost his leg and went on to play college football. He had the opportunity to announce the Denver Broncos pick during round 5.

Crucial Catch

Since 2009, Crucial Catch has raised more than $30 million and impacted more than 1 million people in communities that need it most. Money raised through Crucial Catch supports the ACS Community Health Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity (CHANGE) program. The program promotes health equity and addresses cancer early detection disparities through community-based cancer prevention programs that increase access to necessary cancer screenings.   


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