The Toronto Argonauts’ James Wilder Jr. will be running for more than just wins through October; he will be running for a cure.
Inspiring by a family friend’s battle with breast cancer, the 25-year-old rookie running back pledged Tuesday to donate one dollar for every rushing yard and $100 for every touchdown he scores over the course of the month. His goal is to help find a cure for the disease that will affect one in eight Canadian women during their lifetime, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.
“It’s good for both causes, for me and the team and for breast cancer research as well,” the Florida State University product said a day after announcing his initiative on his Twitter account, complete with its own hashtag, #RunWilderForACure.
October is breast cancer awareness month. The Argos, who host the Saskatchewan Roughriders this weekend, will wear various pink accents on their uniforms as part of the CFL’s month-long campaign to raise awareness for women’s cancer.
Wilder, who signed with the Argos in March, applauds the awareness that comes with wearing the colour pink but wanted to make sure he was also investing in the cause himself.
He won’t be alone in doing so. After announcing his plans, Wilder convinced other running backs around the league and in the NFL to match his pledge. So far, teammates Declan Cross and Martese Jackson, the B.C. Lions’ Chris Rainey, the Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam and Terry Williams, and the Montreal Alouettes’ Brandon Rutley have joined in.
Atlanta’s Devonta Freeman and Washington’s Chris Thompson, both of whom played with Wilder at Florida State, have also signed up, along with the Chargers’ Melvin Gordon and the Rams’ Todd Gurley.
The number of people who reached out to Wilder in such a short period of time was heartening to Toronto’s running back.
“That was very big to me,” he said. “It just shows that we have a lot of people that want to step up.”
If Wilder’s October is anything like his September, it will mean a pretty pay day for the cause. In four games last month, he amassed 389 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, to go along with 16 receptions for 176 yards. He was one of the league’s players of the month.
Wilder said he would be overjoyed to repeat the feat in October.
“I’m trying to max out,” he said. “I’m trying to lose a lot of money.”