Tackling Cancer: Dallas Cowboys Star Bradie James

Bradie JamesCourtesy Paul Moseley/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Our hero: Bradie James, 30

Where he lives: Dallas, Texas

How he helps: Funding breast cancer services

Dallas Cowboys linebacker Bradie James isn’t making a flashy fashion statement when he hits the field every October in pink cleats, gloves, and wristbands. Rather, he’s memorializing his mother, Etta James, who died of breast cancer in 2001 when Bradie was playing football for Louisiana State University. “My mom’s cancer was detected too late, and we didn’t know what treatment options were available,” James says. In 2007, he created Bradie James’ Foundation 56 (his player number) to “help families [avoid] going through what my family went through.”

Since then, the Dallas-based foundation has raised about $500,000 from an annual gymnastics meet at LSU, a casino night in Dallas, and personal donations. Intended to provide education, therapy, and other services for breast cancer patients, survivors, and their families, grants have been made to Louisiana and Texas breast cancer facilities like the Methodist Dallas Medical Center. The facility used its $71,000 grant to fund yoga and art-therapy classes, a resource center for early detection and treatment options, and a mobile mammography van that has screened 4,000 women a year in Dallas and Fort Worth communities. At James’s request, Methodist is also developing a men’s support group, which will begin in the fall.

“Bradie doesn’t just want to give money,” says Allison Vo, cancer program manager at Methodist. “He wants to make the patients’ and the families’ experiences better.”

During football season, James, a nine-year pro, says his mother is never far from his mind. “I carry my mother’s strength on and off the field,” he says. “Breast cancer doesn’t have an off-season.”

To learn more about Foundation 56 or to donate, go to bradiejames.net.

Know a local hero? Visit American Towns to submit your nomination: americantowns.com/powerofone.

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