When the Bears take the field Sunday against the Patriots, they'll have a little extra inspiration on their side.
The Bears will host 50 breast cancer survivors and patients on the field before the game as part of the team's Crucial Catch Week, which kicked off Monday. This year will mark the 11th year the Bears have held a Crucial Catch game focusing on the "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" initiative through Bears Care, which raises funds and support for local Chicago organizations that provide care to breast cancer patients, survivors and family members.
The game will feature several tributes to cancer survivors as it highlights a week's worth of events to raise awareness. Mike Manganaro and Danny Jamieson, who are both Bears Care supporters, will serve as honorary captains on Sunday. The two are honoring family member Marianna Smith, who passed away from breast cancer, and Mike's daughter, who will celebrate her 30th birthday on Sunday and is recovering from breast cancer surgery.
Fans are encouraged to show their support by wearing pink to the game, and the first 20,000 fans to enter the stadium will receive an Advocate Health Care "Monsters of the Midway" cape. The Bears will also distribute all tickets donated to Bears Care through the Bears Share program this week to breast cancer survivors.
In the days leading up the game and throughout the month of October, the Bears and Bears Care will sponsor and participate in a number of events focused on breast cancer awareness and support.
Bears players will wear special practice jerseys featuring a white and pink Advocate Health Care patch leading up to the game Sunday. Fans will have the opportunity to purchase players' jerseys through the Chicago Bears App, and each jersey will come with an "I Practiced For" card signed by the player indicating someone in his life touched by cancer to whom he dedicated his week of practice. All proceeds from the jersey sales will go to the "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" campaign.
Fans can also get their own pink swag by purchasing the 2018 edition of the "Real Bears Fans Wear Pink" t-shirt. Fans can purchase it online or at various locations throughout the stadium on Sunday.
During the week, several Bears players will be taking time to recognize and honor breast cancer survivors. On Monday, receiver Javon Wims will surprise a breast cancer patient being treated at Advocate Condell Medical Center at her home and escort her to her appointment. The surprise visit is in coordination with American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program, which helps cancer patients with transportation to and from treatment. The patient Wims surprises will also receive a customized jersey and two tickets to this Sunday's game as well as the opportunity to participate in the pregame recognition.
Linebacker Sam Acho and Bears mascot Staley Da Bear will surprise a Chicago Public School teacher with a welcome back party on Tuesday afternoon after she returns to the classroom after going through treatment from breast cancer since November. The teacher will also be invited to the Bears-Patriots game and have the opportunity to take in pregame activities from the field.
On the Tuesday following this week's game, former Bears player Chris Draft, linebacker Aaron Lynch and Staley Da Bear will participate in a football camp with survivors, patients and caregivers at the Walter Payton Center. Draft, who lost his wife to lung cancer, will talk about his journey as a survivor and encourage survivors and patients that they are not fighting alone.
The campaign continues the Bears' organization-wide commitment to being partners in the community and going above and beyond in giving back to Chicago-area charities.