CROWN POINT | A cancer awareness effort launched last year by then-11-year-old Will Melby has multiplied tenfold.
Melby in 2012 asked 60 teammates on his youth football Junior Bulldog Chargers, to wear pink socks when they suited up in October, in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
On Saturday, all 620 Junior Bulldog league members will sport pink socks in daylong match-ups between the league's 28 teams.
"We wanted to make a donation," Junior Bulldogs board of directors member Scott Shahbaz said.
The league will cover the cost of all 1,240 pink-dyed socks and will make a monetary donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Shahbaz said.
In doing so, the league follows in the cleat prints of the National Football League, the top sponsor of the effort, said American Cancer Society local representative Janet Wartman.
Since 2009, the NFL program has raised approximately $4.5 million for the American Cancer Society, with the majority of contributions coming from the sale of specially identified pink merchandise, according to the NFL website.
Will, now 12, of Dyer, got on board after watching a Chicago Bears game last year with his dad, Bill Melby. The players were wearing pink gloves, shoes, armbands or other items.
Wanting to know how he could help, Will called the American Cancer Society.
"It was because some people in my family have had cancer and I don't want it to happen anymore," Will said at the time.
Junior Bulldog leadership took the ball and ran with it this year, winning the participation of all 28 teams, Bill Melby said.
"Bill (Melby) gave us a contact and we went ahead with it," Shahbaz said. "The money goes back into the community," helping with research and treatment.
The Junior Bulldogs get support from the community, Shahbaz said. "We have the funds to give back, and it's time to give back."
Play begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with the last game kicking off at 6:30 p.m Saturday at Junior Bulldogs fields in the Crown Point sports complex, in the 1300 block of East North Street.