LAKE FOREST — October 31 is the day when Breast Cancer Awareness Month officially ends. But for Corey Wootton of the Chicago Bears, the message of early breast cancer detection is perpetual. Wootton, a defensive end for the Bears, appeared at a Lake Forest Halas Hall news conference to promote breast cancer awareness. Wootton teamed up with the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Procter & Gamble for the October 22 “Best Defense Day of Action.” During the news conference, Wootton, whose voice halted with emotion as he spoke of the memory of loved ones, said, “Breast cancer and building awareness for the lifesaving benefits of early detection is especially important to me because it affected my family way too much.” Early Detection Saves Lives. That’s the message promoted by the day of action. Wootton is known for being picked in the fourth round by the Chicago Bears in 2010 after playing for the Northwestern University Wildcats. At Northwestern, Wootton was celebrated for his high percentage of sacks and tackles despite a knee injury. View Karie Angell Luc’s interview with Wootton at www.evanston.suntimes.com.
Q: Corey, it looked like it was getting to you a bit during your opening remarks at the news conference, while describing your family’s history with breast cancer. Is that so?
A: Definitely. It is a very emotional issue with me, especially because of my aunt who I was very close to. She passed away unfortunately when I was 16 years old. She always went to my sporting events and said one day I was going to be a professional baseball player. I’m a professional, but not in baseball. In the NFL. She always said that, you know, she’d be watching over me when she knew she was going to pass away. And it was definitely something sad and you know, every now and again, I think that she’s watching me from up above.
Q:It’s all about faith isn’t it then, Corey?
A: Oh definitely. These moments, like appearing on an October day to talk about breast cancer education, these moments are what keep us going as people, right? Definitely. And I think the biggest thing, you know P&G (Procter & Gamble) and their breast cancer awareness, they’re striving for women to do early detection, it really does save lives. And that’s important.
Q: You seem very thankful. Is that right?
A: Oh, I’m very thankful. Especially for my mother-in-law. She’s a seven-year survivor of breast cancer due to early detection. She was able to diagnose it early on and it did save her life. She goes on annual check-ups and she follows that. That’s something that I’m always promoting, early detection. Because it really did save her life.
Q: So what is the power of one person then?
A: One person can change the world. I really do believe that. You know, the more people speak out about it, the more awareness is going to be raised. Just look at how much it’s grown. NFL is doing October Month and everyone’s wearing pink. Fans are wearing pink. So it’s just incredible to see the transformation. It’s something that is dear to my heart, something that I will always strive to put out there, to help raise awareness any way I can.
Q: Corey, here’s your chance for a shout out to Evanston and the Northwestern University community coming from a former football player. Your special memories?
A: You know, I think the biggest thing I remember are the games. Being at Ryan Field. And the fans. And the Walker Way where they honor Coach (Randy) Walker who passed away when I was a freshman. So every time before the games when we get off the buses to go into the locker room, we have the fans and the band waiting for us. And they play the fight song. That is something that I will always remember.