Ex-safety continues effort to tackle cancer

Former safety LeRoy Butler's breast cancer foundation is marching on to raise awareness and help find a cure. The foundation announced its next big fund-raising event for May. Packer Report's Tom Andrews recently had a chance to speak with Butler about the foundation's progress and the upcoming event.

Forceful. Focused. Direct. Hard-hitting. That's the way Number 36 played when he roamed the defensive backfield for 12 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. And that's the way LeRoy Butler continues to take care of business long after the cheering stopped and he walked away from the playing field.

These days, Butler's focus isn't blitzing quarterbacks, forcing fumbles or chasing another Super Bowl ring. It's using his celebrity status to champion the fight against breast cancer. It's helping to provide comfort, support and direct financial help for these embattled women and their families. Since the LeRoy Butler Foundation for Breast Cancer was started a couple years ago, it has raised over $300,000 that is used for research, financial assistance, treatment costs, and public education on breast cancer. For now, the foundation's resources are being used to help women in Wisconsin and in Butler's native Jacksonville, Florida. As the foundation continues to grow, that area of influence will be expanded.

"With breast cancer, a lot of people wait until October (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) to hold their fund-raising events," Butler explained. "We do a lot (year-round). We've got a book called ‘Leap of Faith' and it's about 14 breast cancer survivors who got together with my foundation to release their story. We're really looking for companies and individuals who would like to sponsor the book and get their company's name and logo on the back cover."

For the past several months, promotional copies of the book have been distributed in key markets all over the state. On June 7, the book will have its official national release during an event with Froedert Hospital in Milwaukee.

Butler admits that raising money recently has been an especially tall order.

"A lot of people I know talk about recession and with the price of gas going up, a lot of folks haven't been giving as they would in the past," Butler said. "We understand that. Still, at the LeRoy Butler Foundation, we like to put product out there for people to purchase, things like autographed jerseys, framed Brett Favre memorabilia and other autographed items. We're always looking for ways to help women with breast cancer. The difference between us and other organizations is that we actually help the women directly. Our people are all volunteers and more than 95% of the money we raise goes directly to women who need money for health care in association with breast cancer or expenses for them to get to the doctor to help out. No one is in this to make money or get rich. We just want to help people out."

Anybody who watched Butler play football knows the tremendous training and work ethic he brought to the game. Currently, he's in "training" of sorts for his next big fund-raising event on Saturday, May 17, in Navarino, Wis., just west of Green Bay. It's the Sporting Clays Benefit Shoot, but Butler says downing clay targets with a shotgun is not exactly foreign to him.

"(Former Packer linebacker) Brian Noble was one of my mentors growing up when I was a little pup with the Packers," said Butler. "He took me, Terrell Buckley and a few other guys to do it. I always wanted to do it because I'm not much of a hunter. I'm a southern guy and we eat stuff at drive-through restaurants, not the woods! Jim Van Geffen of the J&H Gun Club is going to take me out a couple times to get up on it because I don't want some eight year-old to beat me doing this thing!"

The outing will feature a 50-target sporting clays event, a flurry shoot, and a chance to challenge LeRoy's team of kids in a group event. There will also be a silent auction, raffle items and photo/autograph sessions with Butler.

For Butler, it will be fun – and all in a day's work.

"I'm just blessed to use who I am and we are always looking for people to donate to the cause," said Butler. "This is going to be fun. You won't get somebody who's very experienced to go up against you. You'll get somebody in your class so it will be competitive. It's a fund-raising event and people understand that but, at the same time, we're very excited. It takes a lot of skill and this is very exciting to me."

For more information on the Sporting Clays Benefit shoot, contact Jim Van Geffen at (920) 832-8726 or by email at dukeofdarboy@yahoo.com. You can also visit www.leroybutlerfoundation.org.

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