In Week 13, teams around the NFL participated in the annual My Cause My Cleats game, which allowed players and coaches to dedicate their cleats to a charity of their choice. Over 60 Colts players, coaches and staff members participated in 2023.
Ahead of the game, we asked different players around the locker room the significance of their cleats. Here are their stories:
Cause: Family Caregiver Alliance
Website: Home - Family Caregiver Alliance
When Brown was 16, his father Tony suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed on the right side of his body. Over the past eight years, Tony's mother Tammy has served as his caregiver while also holding down a job.
Seeing firsthand the emotional and physical toll being a caregiver can give, Brown chose the Family Caregiver Alliance as the charity he wanted to represent on his cleats as a way to inform everyone about the significance of the task.
"I would just want to raise awareness for if anybody in your family is a caregiver or if anyone needs a caregiver, just reach out to them and see if they need anything," Brown said. "See if you could help in any possible way. That's really all I'm trying to do, just bring awareness to the caregivers and how important they are in life."
Cause: kNot Today
For the fourth straight season, Buckner has decided to advocate for kNot Today, a foundation started by former Colts head coach, Frank Reich. Its mission is to bring awareness to and assist in the development of innovative healing programs for sexually abused and exploited children.
"Now that I have kids, it's just one of those things that's a hard topic that isn't really spoken about a lot in our country or throughout the world," Buckner said. "So, the more that I can do to really bring that situation to light and really make people realize that this is a real thing that goes on in our society to protect our youth is a big thing for me."
Cause: KG's Kids
Website: KG's Kids (kgskids.com)
An avid reader, Granson started KG Kids with his parents in March of 2020. The intent of the literacy-based foundation is to emphasize education and create opportunities for all students to be successful in school.
"Do you know how poor Indiana reading test scores were for like a third grade benchmark? 22.3 percent of children passed. So, 75-plus percent cannot read at an adequate level," Granson said. "How as a species are we going to move forward if as a developed country, we cannot provide adequate materials, space and utilities to get these kids educated? That's the only way that we could move forward as a society. The more educated we are, the more informed people are, the better as a nation we will be. So, tackling that I feel should be the first and foremost thing. I mean, reading we take it for granted, but it really elevates."
In the years since its inception, KG's Kids has partnered with nine elementary schools within Warren Township. The foundation has helped provide those schools with culturally diverse libraries and has hosted STEM days and reading events.
Cause: Breast Cancer Foundation
For his first My Cause My Cleats game, Mallory decided to dedicate his cleats to the fight against breast cancer. Well aware of the effects of the deadly disease, Mallory wanted to pay tribute to his loved ones who'd battled the malignancy.
"Both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, my mom as well," Mallory said. "My [maternal] grandmother Bonnie Thomas, I called her 'Bunny' growing up, passed away my freshman year of college. So, I just wanted to honor her and my mom and my other grandmother as well. I went with the cartoon bunny to throw on there and I think it turned out great."
Cause: Just a Pair of Shoes
As adolescents try to navigate the highs and lows of growing up, Just a Pair of Shoes' purpose is to ensure that having a pair of shoes is the least of their worries. As a child, Ogletree had times when he didn't have many options for footwear, which drew him to the organization and its work.
"Growing up, I didn't have a lot of shoes. Maybe I had one or two and then once I outgrew them, it was slim picking because big guy, big shoes," Ogletree said. "It definitely gives you a lot of perspective being where I am now and being able to own a lot of pairs of shoes. But then to look back and think about, man there's a lot of kids out there that don't have shoes and have to wear flip flops every day or some kids who have shoes with holes in them and things like that. So, it just feels amazing to give back to the community that way."
Cause: Inclusive Sports Foundation
Founded by Matt Lance, the Inclusive Sports Foundation's mission is to provide children with special needs physical activity and inclusive social interaction.
"He's got some kids with special needs, and he felt like it was a space that was kind of underdeveloped where they didn't have enough representation as far as them getting out there and playing sports," Olubi said. "So, it was kind of created to deal with that."
While Olubi was a student at Centennial High School, Lance was one of his assistant coaches. As the organization has continued to grow, Olubi has kept up with its progress and participated in an event they held in Las Vegas.
Cause: She's the First
Website: She's the First
With its worldwide efforts to empower women and provide girls with the chance to pursue an education, She's the First was an organization that Paye said he instantly gravitated to.
"I definitely wanted to do an organization that supports African countries this year and 'She's the First', I think they worked with eight West African Countries. So, I was definitely interested in that," Paye said. "And then everyone knows that I love my mother very dearly. Growing up, she kind of spoke about how important education was and how she didn't have the opportunity to get an education overseas because they didn't have the funds. Overseas, you have to pay school fees to go to school. It's not like here where kids are required to go to school.
"So, especially for women back home, they don't really have the opportunity to get an education and I wanted to be a part of something like that. With where the world is going, we're having women referees and women as coaches. We're moving in the direction of empowering women. I wanted to be a part of something like that."
Cause: Stuardship Foundation
Inspired by the bible verse Matthew 18:5, Stuard and his wife Josie were inspired to start the Stuardship Foundation while they were students at the University of Houston. One of the biggest initiatives of the foundation is to host an annual football camp in Houston which allows kids coming out of difficult circumstances to see that it's possible to make it out.
"For me, it's all about that intimate connection and relationship with them and they can really see that they can do it," Stuard said. "They really can see guys like me and other guys that went to the University of Houston coming back to the Third Ward. We got it out the mud however we grew up. I grew up with a mom and dad who were both drug addicts. My dad was in prison, and I was still able to accomplish my goals. That started in the classroom and started by just applying myself and it was really fueled by my relationship with Jesus. So, for me, that's what's important for me to go out and do these types of events.
"Because I'm a football player, now they want to listen just a little bit more, you know? Young men and young boys, they already have all this energy, so we come together as alumni of Houston and do that camp. It's like we can tell them, 'Hey, you can apply this energy in a healthy space that can allow you to have the opportunity to provide for your family and provide for yourself."