Updated: Apr 2, 2021
When it comes to cancer, anyone can be affected by the disease, regardless of their race, age or gender. But for those in the Black community, cancer has a greater impact, often leading to higher mortality rates. And one Tampa Bay Buccaneers player wants to change that narrative.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defensive End William Gholston, and recent Super Bowl champion, knows first-hand the impact that cancer can have on minority communities. He watched his mother battle breast cancer and lost his father to lung cancer. After watching both parents fight cancer, Gholston had a desire to do something. He didn’t know what that could be, that is until he learned about Moffitt Cancer Center’s George Edgecomb Society.
While speaking with a friend, who happened to be a Moffitt team member, Gholston learned that the George Edgecomb Society’s sole purpose is to eliminate cancer health disparities among communities of color. Aligning with his personal goals, he knew that this was the perfect way to honor his mother and late father.
Days before his Super Bowl appearance, he donated $225,000 to the society to help fund research in breast, colon and prostate cancers – all of which disproportionately affect Black men and women. “After realizing all of the trials and tribulations that we go through as a minority community, donating allowed me to not just talk about it, but to be about it and let my actions follow,” Gholston said. William and his mother Dawn wants his donation to have a domino effect, ending with more support for the Black community. “With my donation, I want the results to be that we gave accessibility to those who didn’t have it before,” he said. “Have them acquire the knowledge, they learn what to expect or see, then they go and share it with others in the Black community.”
The defensive end wants those in minority communities to be comfortable enough to go and get screened, believe there is hope and pass a little bit of hope onto others. Gholston also hopes that his donation paves the way for others with the same status to not only have the conversation but put forth the effort to help with research and the betterment of those in the Black community. While in the offseason, Gholston says that he is learning something new every day about cancer health disparities and looking forward to being able to gain even more knowledge.
Since its inception in 2017, the George Edgecomb Society has funded six pilot projects spearheaded by Moffitt researchers, totaling $400,000. It continues to research cancers that disproportionately impact the Black community in hopes of one day putting an end to cancer health disparities.