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Bears participating in My Cause My Cleats initiative

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Pat O'Donnell and Benny Cunningham combined to produce one of the Bears' most memorable plays of the season, a 38-yard touchdown pass on a fake punt against the Vikings. But that's not the only bond the two teammates share.

Both players will don special shoes Sunday when the Bears host the San Francisco 49ers at Soldier Field to honor their fathers who passed away due to cancer. They will be among more than 30 Bears players participating in a league-wide "My Cause My Cleats" initiative this weekend.

O'Donnell's shoes will pay tribute to the Cleveland Clinic in South Florida, the facility where his father received treatment for colon cancer. Terry O'Donnell passed away Sept. 19 at the age of 61 after an 11-year battle with the disease.

"It's such a great organization down there," O'Donnell said. "The doctors are fantastic. Everybody came in to see my dad on a daily basis. I think it just spoke to what kind of guy he was, that he always had an impact on somebody. He was always cracking jokes. He wasn't the type of person people would forget."

Two months after his father's death, O'Donnell is still coping with the loss.

"It's not anything anybody can prepare you for," he said. "It's something that we knew eventually was going to happen, but it's never easy. The shock is tough. But football's the best thing for me right now. It takes my mind off of things. He was the type of person who always wanted me to take care of my business."

A South Florida native, O'Donnell transferred from the University of Cincinnati to the University of Miami as a college senior to be closer to his dad as he battled cancer.

"He had such a huge impact on my collegiate career, my high school career, even coaching me in little league," O'Donnell said. "He helped me get a scholarship, whether it was shagging balls, taking me to the field, getting me private coaches. Whatever I needed to be successful, he helped me out."

Cunningham was in eighth grade when his father, also named Benny Cunningham, passed away due to cancer. The Bears running back will wear cleats Sunday that pay tribute to the American Cancer Society.

"I just feel like [cancer] has had an effect on me personally, an effect on our organization and just throughout the world," Cunningham said. "Anytime you have the opportunity to have a platform and try to bring awareness to something, you try to take advantage of it."

Cunningham will always be grateful for the impact his father had on his life.

"He pushed me to this game," he said. "I didn't understand then the things that I understand now why he pushed me so hard. Every time I take the field I try to talk to him. I feel like he's always with me whenever I lace up the cleats and play this game. He had a great impact on my life and he's never forgotten."

Other Bears players who will participate in the "My Cause My Cleats" initiative Sunday include:

Sam Acho (Living Hope Christian Ministries)
Adrian Amos (Alzheimer's Association)
Prince Amukamara (Pro Athletes Outreach)
Joshua Bellamy (Chicago Housing Authority)
Daniel Brown (Red Cross)
Jonathan Bullard (American Cancer Society)
Michael Burton (Embrace Kids Foundation)
Quintin Demps (Teen Living Programs)
Andrew DePaola (Bo's Effort)
Kyle Fuller (SADS Foundation)
Mike Glennon (Chicago Police Foundation)
Eddie Goldman (Youth Guidance)
Akiem Hicks (US Army)
DeAndre Houston-Carson (Orphan Network)
Jordan Howard (Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation)
Eddie Jackson (Leukemia Lymphoma Society)
John Jenkins (American Diabetes Association)
Christian Jones (Florida Hospital Pink Out Campaign)
Cre'von LeBlanc (Cre'von LeBlanc Foundation)
Pernell McPhee (American Cancer Society)
Roy Robertson-Harris (Children's Advocacy Center of Lake County)
John Timu (USO)
Danny Trevathan (Bears Care/Breast Cancer Awareness)
Mitchell Trubisky (Thumbs Up Mission)
Mitch Unrein (Living Hope Christian Ministries)

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