From the American Diabetes Association to the Epilepsy Foundation, from the Dolphins Cancer Challenge to climate change awareness, from promoting child fitness to supporting youth in foster care, from the Anti-Defamation League to veterans group Wounded Warrior, Dolphins players will be showing their support for all sorts of causes before, during and after the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.
While they got a late start because of their back-to-back road games the past two weeks, the Dolphins will be taking their turn with the NFL's My Cause My Cleats campaign.
It's an annual NFL initiative that gives players the opportunity to wear cleats for one game designed to promote a cause important to them.
Dolphins fans already may have seen some of the players unveiling their custom-made cleats on social media, but today they'll get to see the finished products.
"I like it a lot," defensive end Taco Charlton said of the My Cause My Cleats campaign. "It just shows that at times it's bigger than football. It's bigger than the game. Everybody sees us playing a game, doing what we do out here and put on a show, but a lot of times we care a lot more beyond this game of making a bigger impact in our communities or where we come from and I think that's beautiful."
Charlton is among the many Dolphins players participating in the My Cause My Cleats and his shoes today will be promoting his own charitable foundation, the Taco Charlton Supreme Life Foundation.
"What I try to do back home for underprivileged, under-resourced youth back home (in Columbus, Ohio) and give back to the inner-city kids who don't have the resources to really further their education, further their athletic ability, whatever it may be," he said. "Me and my foundation, we try to come in and go into these communities and try to give them the resources. At times we do a book bad drive, we do turkey drives, cleat drives. We'll do something probably this month for Christmas. Whatever it may be, try to give stuff back to families who aren't able to put presents under their tree. We try to help them do that. Anything we try to do, we try to give back to those families and try to make a huge impact right now in that Columbus, Ohio, area, but eventually we'll branch out and try to do more."
Another player who will be promoting his foundation is defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, the Chaux Down Foundation.
"Childhood obesity, child mentorship, childhood education, I feel that was important me to (showcase) my foundation out of the field on Dec. 22," Godchaux said. "Mentorship. Everybody needs that kind of leader in their life, a mentor, whether it's a counselor, mentorship. I feel like everybody needs that type of person in their life."
For others, the cause involves a specific medical issue that affected or is affecting someone close to them.
Rookie guard Michael Deiter will be wearing cleats highlighting the Epilepsy Foundation and will include his epileptic older sister Megan's initials, MJD.
"It's cool," Deiter said about My Cause My Cleats. "It just brings awareness to it and like all the guys in here they have something that they care about and it's cool to see them have a reason for it. Because everyone in the world can also go, 'Yeah, I know someone who's got that' and all this stuff that they go through and it's cool. It kind of makes like fans and people who just watch the NFL connect with us in a different way that has nothing to do with football. They can kind of go, yeah, those people, they know people and they deal with stuff too just like we do. It just brings society together. It's just kind of a cool thing."
Special teams captain Walt Aikens, meanwhile, will be wearing cleats showcasing the American Diabetes Association.
Aikens lost his uncle to the disease, which also is afflicting his grandmother.
"(I want) to show them I support them and I'm representing them," Aikens said. "My grandmother has been dealing with hers for some time now. She's been good, healthy. My uncle unfortunately passed due to this. I just like bringing awareness. I'm with the ADA, so I go down to Congress every year to speak about continuing the funding for the American Diabetes (Association) and finding a cure."
Punter Matt Haack is representing the Dolphins Cancer Challenge in memory of a friend he lost in elementary school.
Haack ran in the 5K race at Hard Rock Stadium in the 2019 DCC.
"It's kind of been something I've gradually becoming involved in here," he said. "When we did the event last year, I started running in it. Kind of the reason is back when I was in elementary school one of my best friends actually died from leukemia. It's something that has impacted in my life, so I thought, why not?"
Linebacker Raekwon McMillan also will be highlighted the Dolphins Cancer Challenge with his cleats. He biked in the 2019 event and now has become one of the DCC board members.
"Just trying to build awareness for the event that we have going on February so more people can join, more people can donate and have a good time for a good cause," McMillan said. "I actually visited the Sylvester (Comprehensive Cancer) Center and was able to really engage on where all the money is going, how the technology works and what they're doing down there to make the world a better place and beat cancer."
Long-snapper Taybor Pepper, meanwhile, will be supporting Gamers Outreach, an organization that he came to find out was founded by a former high school classmate in Michigan.
"Basically what they do, they go to children's hospitals and they make their own gaming carts," Pepper explained. "So they put all the gaming consoles on these little carts and they're able to have portable gaming stations brought to kids' rooms who aren't allowed outside their rooms. So every kid can play video games. Because when they're cooped up in the hospital, it's pretty rough obviously. And a lot of families are paying the medical bills so they can't afford a game system, so it allows kids to kind of take a break from what's going on around them and able to play games."
In addition to wearing the cleats, players will have the opportunity to auction them off to raise funds for their cause. Those auctions can be found here.
Dolphins players show off the causes they will be supporting this year on their cleats against the Bengals in Week 16.
Here's a rundown of Dolphins players wearing cleats for a cause Sunday:
- Walt Aikens: American Diabetes Association (diabetes)
- Jerome Baker: Fuel Up To Play 60 (educating children to lead healthy lifestyles)
- Kalen Ballage: 5000 Role Models (mentorship)
- Vince Biegel: Alex C. Dove Foundation (brain cancer)
- Evan Boehm: American Heart Association (heart disease)
- Shaq Calhoun: Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (breast cancer)
- Taco Charlton: The Taco Charlton Supreme Life Foundation (underserved youth)
- Chandler Cox: Lupus Foundation of American/American Thyroid Foundation (lupus and thyroid disease)
- Julién Davenport: Boys & Girls Club/YMCA (improving the lives of youth)
- Michael Deiter: Epilepsy Foundation (epilepsy)
- Sam Eguavoen: Epilepsy Foundation (epilepsy)
- Myles Gaskin: Dolphins Cancer Challenge (breast cancer awareness)
- Mike Gesicki: THON Penn State (childhood cancer)
- Davon Godchaux: Chaux Down Foundation (inner-city youth)
- Matt Haack: DCC (cancer)
- Terrill Hanks: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (prevention of animal cruelty)
- Charles Harris: Multiple Sclerosis Foundation (multiple sclerosis)
- Allen Hurns: 88 Blessings (single parents in need)
- John Jenkins: Ocean Conservancy (cleaner oceans and climate change awareness)
- Daniel Kilgore: Tribe Games (athletics for special needs children)
- Patrick Laird: Super Stars Literacy (transforming lives through reading)
- Jonathan Ledbetter: I'm A Father F1st/Mothers Against Drunk Driving (minority fatherhood/dunk driving prevention)
- Raekwon McMillan: DCC (cancer)
- Nik Needham: 88 Blessings (single parents in need)
- Taybor Pepper: Gamers Outreach Foundation (entertainment for hospitalized children)
- Josh Rosen: Parley for the Oceans (climate change)
- Eric Rowe: Anti-Defamation League (anti-bullying)
- Jake Rudock: The ChadTough Foundation (pediatric brain cancer)
- Jason Sanders: Wounded Warrior Project (military appreciation)
- Durham Smythe: Weish4Ever — The Andrew Weishar Foundation (pediatric cancer)
- Andrew Van Ginkel: DCC (cancer)
- Ken Webster: Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center/DCC (cancer)
- Christian Wilkins: Values Matter Miami (youth and education)
- Preston Williams: Pridelines (LGBT community)
- Albert Wilson: Albert Wilson Foundation (youth in foster care and underserved communities)