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Saturday December 4th, 2021 9:11PM

Two NFL players to wear cleats in support of Gainesville-based Thumbs Up Mission

By B.J. Williams Assistant News Director
If you're watching the NFL this weekend, you may notice many of the players sporting unusual footwear. It's all part of the #MyCauseMyCleats effort, where players wear specially designed cleats to bring attention to charities they support.
 
Two players will be sporting cleats in honor of the Thumbs Up Mission based in Hall County.
 
Kanler Coker, who played football and basketball at the University of North Carolina, said two of his former college teammates - Mitch Trubisky and Mack Hollins - will be wearing the Thumbs Up cleats in memory of his brother Keaton, a victim of brain cancer.
 
"Both of them have previous relationships with Keaton," Coker said. "When he'd come up [to Chapel Hill], we'd hang out and they just had a great bond with him. They always asked about him...and that was a time period when he was going through his battle."
 
Keaton Coker died at the age of 18, and his parents Miles and Sharon Coker started a foundation to honor their son, a foundation that the entire Coker family supports. Foundation Director Skip Ecke said that the Thumbs Up Mission takes families who are on what he called "a journey with cancer" to retreats designed to be a “vacation from cancer.”  The retreats are held at resorts in North Georgia and North Carolina.
 
Kanler Coker said the idea came from a similar trip his family was able to take with Keaton.
 
"We went on a Make-A-Wish trip with Keaton, and that's something that my family really cherished, especially more now that Keaton's not with us," Coker said. "We want to have that same [impact] for families that are battling [cancer]."
 
Trubisky is a quarterback with the Chicago Bears and Hollins is a receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles. Coker describes the two as his best friends during the most difficult time of his life.
 
"They were like brothers to me and when Keaton did leave this earth, they were everything for me up there [UNC] because I didn't have any family with me," Coker said. "They both want to honor Keaton and Thumbs Up Mission by wearing Thumbs Up cleats."
 
Coker said even though the cleats are specially designed, they aren't just for show.
 
"They actually wear them...they'll have 'em on on the field on Sunday," Coker said.
 
In addition participating in #MyCauseMyCleats, Coker said he expects both Trubisky and Hollins to show up at upcoming retreats for Thumbs Up Mission 
 
  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Sports, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Cancer, NFL, charity, thumbs up mission, My Cause My Cleats, Kanler Coker, Keaton Coker, charitable organizations
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