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My Cause My Cleats

Chicago Bears' My Cause My Cleats involvement starts at top with team's leaders

Bears President & CEO Kevin Warren and Chairman George H. McCaskey with partnership activation assistant Danica Lopez. Lopez painted both Warren and McCaskey's shoes for this year's My Cause My Cleats initiative.
Bears President & CEO Kevin Warren and Chairman George H. McCaskey with partnership activation assistant Danica Lopez. Lopez painted both Warren and McCaskey's shoes for this year's My Cause My Cleats initiative.

For the past two years, during Wednesday team meetings, Matt Eberflus has highlighted players who spent time in the community the day prior. Because of the current roster's overwhelming community involvement, the record number of players supporting My Cause My Cleats this season isn't surprising to the Bears head coach.

"The players are giving their time on their day off to really reach out to the community – children's hospitals, youth flag football programs for young ladies or whatever that might be," Eberflus said. "They've done a really good job of that, and I just keep encouraging them to do it."

In addition to the record number of players and football staff participating in the annual NFL initiative, the Bears' business staff received the opportunity to be involved for the first time. It's an idea that's unanimously supported by the club's leadership group: Eberflus, general manager Ryan Poles, President & CEO Kevin Warren and Chairman George H. McCaskey.

"I think when they see Kevin, George, myself and Ryan also out there in the community being supportive, I just think it shows a good example," Eberflus said. "You try to model the behavior you want to see."

With 51 players and football staff signed up and nearly 80 percent of the business staff involved in painting a pair of Air Force 1's supporting their cause to wear on gameday, the overall buy-in from the club resonated with Warren.

"It's another opportunity for us to show the importance of what the Chicago Bears mean to this community and also what we can do as a franchise not only from an individual standpoint, but from a collective standpoint, to really make the world a better place," Warren said. "All of us have different initiatives that we're interested in, which makes this very special. But to see us come together has been incredibly enjoyable."

McCaskey felt involving the business staff was "a natural outgrowth" of something "the players have really embraced" the last several years. But before asking everyone to align with the initiative, McCaskey recognized the value of leading by example to increase involvement.

"That's what leadership is all about," McCaskey said. "People are looking to us, seeing what we're doing. We're emphasizing to the staff that they should get involved and I'm sure some of them are thinking, 'Well, what are you doing?' So the fact that Kevin and Ryan and Matt are all behind this is terrific. I think the staff is going to feed off that and make it more exciting for them to get behind their initiatives."

While Poles and Eberflus both wore customized shoes last season for My Cause My Cleats, aligning with Warren and McCaskey this year created an even larger ripple effect across the organization.

"I think anytime you want change, it starts from the top and it works down from there," Poles said. "When you look up at the leaders of the organization, if they're doing it, everyone feels compelled to do the same thing, and if that many people are really bringing awareness to different causes, we're making an impact as an organization."

As far as their individual causes, the Bears' leaders are spreading the support around. Warren is representing his and his wife Greta's charity — the Warren Family Foundation, which positively impacts various parts of the community.

The foundation has provided students with college scholarship grants, supported the National Coalition for Minority Football Coaches, donated to the National Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights following the death of George Floyd and provided an emergency assistance fund for children's cancer patients and their families through Carolyn’s Comforts.

McCaskey is supporting Chicago Scholars, a local program that prepares students for life after school by supporting them through college acceptance, matriculation, persistence and career access.

While McCaskey has never worked with the group before, he wanted to step outside his comfort zone and learn about a new organization. McCaskey found out about Chicago Scholars through Bears corporate partnerships manager Laron Davis, who had a prior relationship with the program.

"I liked what I saw," McCaskey said. "I like their mission. I like the way they're going about it and providing educational opportunities is near and dear to the Bears' heart. My parents and my grandpa always emphasized education to us. So it just seemed natural and I'm enjoying learning more about it and look forward to meeting their CEO at the game Dec. 10."

Poles chose the Navy Seals as his organization to support this season. He was invited to their evening of tribute at Navy Pier and was "really moved by the stories [he] heard from former Seals and current Seals."

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The general manager felt most impacted by the spouses and families of Seals sharing their perspectives and "wanted to support that group and also create awareness for others to jump in as well."

For the second year in a row, Eberflus is representing the Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, an organization he and his wife, Kelly, have supported since coming to Chicago. Eberflus and his two daughters attended the Z Center's fundraiser this summer and got a chance to see firsthand how impactful the program is in the Chicagoland community.

"It's just another way for me to show support and bring light to the Z Center and how important it is for everybody to have awareness," Eberflus said, "and also for the people that are actually in that fight of going through that mental side of sexual abuse and trying to get on the other side of it. Their counseling and educational programs are second-to-none."

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The organizations Warren, McCaskey, Poles and Eberflus chose to amplify this year are just four of the hundreds that will receive national attention on Dec. 10. While players will wear their custom cleats like normal, staff who participated will sport their sneakers at Soldier Field as well.

Warren also views the Bears' all-around involvement as a way to help "bridge the perceived or the true gap between football and business, not only in this organization but in the National Football League."

"It's a project that the players and coaches and staff and ownership came together, and it's going to be the first of many," Warren said. "It's exciting, especially with the way people love their sneakers. To be able to bring their own style and swag to the sneaker game while our players do it with the cleats is special, as well as bringing awareness to so many different charities and initiatives."

A record number of Bears players, coaches and staff sported special footwear for the team's My Cause My Cleats game Dec. 10th against the Lions. Take an exclusive look at the custom spikes, which were created to support a charitable organization of each person's choice, as well as some of the players posting with their cleats.

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