Ex-Packer on a mission

LeRoy Butler's new book offers ‘Stories of Courage' in fight against breast cancer

LeRoy Butler was one of the mainstays in a series of excellent Green Bay Packers teams that revived the franchise in the 1990s and brought home the Vince Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl XXXI. His statistics after 12 seasons in Green Bay speak for themselves.

Butler played in more games as a defensive back (181) than any player in team history. He recorded 38 interceptions, leading his team in 1990, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 1997. He registered 20 ½ career sacks and was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade team. In July, he will join his good friend and teammate, receiver Robert Brooks, as the latest inductees into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.

These days, through the LeRoy Butler Foundation for Breast Cancer, Butler is helping people learn about a very different set of statistics:

• 178,480 - The number of new cases of invasive breast cancer expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2007

• 40,460 - The number of women who will lose their fight with this terrible disease this year

• 80% - 90% - The percentage of breast cancers that can be detected early by mammography in women who don't have any symptoms

Butler is also famously known as the player who originated the Lambeau Leap when he joyously jumped into the stands after scoring a touchdown against the Raiders in 1993. He now moves from the Lambeau Leap to a "Leap of Faith" – a brand new book designed to get others excited about helping women with breast cancer and to reach out to others who need to know that so much pain and suffering can be greatly reduced with early detection.

"Leap of Faith: Stories of Courage from the LeRoy Butler Foundation" is scheduled for release on May 13 – Mother's Day.

"This book contains individual stories of ladies who survived breast cancer," said Butler in his first interview about the new project. "Time is running out for a lot of them. We wanted to get their stories documented before, one day, they're not here. We put together ten chapters and each lady has a chance to leave their legacy to let her children and her grandchildren know that their mom or grandmother was part of a book that helped build awareness about this disease."

"Leap of Faith" is truly a team effort, a collaboration between Butler, Lori Severson, Renee Wahlen Tillema and others who have all donated their time and energy to make these cancer survivor stories come to life.

"This book is a great reality book," said Butler. "It's funny and some of it's sad and it's all very interesting."

And the goal? Simple: to help the individuals who need it the most.

"We have women with breast cancer who can't afford to pay the small percentage that the insurance either won't or can't pay," Butler explained. "We've helped well over 400 women."

"There's literally no help for individuals anywhere," added Severson. "None of the foundations are set up to help individuals and LeRoy's whole battle is about energy. It's about taking positive energy and working towards fighting off this horrible disease. Some folks aren't lucky enough to have the necessary coverage. They live paycheck to paycheck. They're worried about, ‘Should I get my chemotherapy treatment and spend the money on gas to go do that or should I feed the kids?' Making those kinds of decisions when you're really sick is tough. We help as many individuals as we can and the number of requests we get on a daily basis is horrendous."

Butler and a group of survivors are planning a national book signing tour to raise more money and awareness about the disease. The foundation is finalizing plans on the exact location in which the first signing will take place on Mother's Day. A complete book signing tour schedule will soon be posted on their web site, www.leroybutlerfoundation.org.

Donations can also be sent to:
The LeRoy Butler Foundation for Breast Cancer
P.O. Box 130
Galesville, WI 54630

When he played, Butler bled green and gold. These days, he'll proudly tell you that Real Men Wear Pink.

"The one thing I want people to get is that breast cancer is never the status quo, like ‘It won't affect me or it won't affect my mom or my daughter' because it will," said Butler. "So many people think, ‘Oh, it won't happen to me.' But when you read this book, you're going to realize that you need to do something about this. Encourage your daughter, your auntie, or your mother to get tested. And if you have breast cancer and you need help – a lot of these women have to make decisions like, ‘Do I pay my mortgage or should I pay for my medicine?' My foundation donates the money directly to the people that need the help."

Editor's note: Read more about Butler and "Leap of Faith" in the upcoming Spring issue of Packer Report magazine.


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