Eagles' DeSean Jackson Honors Father by Hosting Gala and Camp for Cancer

Dan ParzychSenior Writer IMay 17, 2010

While he’s spent most of the offseason preparing for the 2010 season by conducting various workouts through running and lifting weights, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson took some time off this weekend to honor his father—Bill Jackson.

Friday marked the one-year passing of Bill, who lost his fight to pancreatic cancer—which is a malignant tumor in the pancreas—after being diagnosed during the Eagles’ playoff run in 2009. It’s nicknamed the “silent killer” and is the fourth leading cause of death in cancer. Four people die every hour from the horrendous disease, with over 47,000 people being diagnosed in 2009.

It was an emotional weekend for Jackson, as he and his family held a number of events Friday and Saturday to honor the man who worked so hard to see his sons reach the NFL. Friday night was the Inaugural Gala for the Foundation in which members of the Philadelphia community and some of Jackson’s teammates showed up to help celebrate the life of Bill.

Before the event, though, Jackson held a press conference to address the media for the first time about the official launch of The DeSean Jackson Foundation For Pancreatic Cancer and Foundation10.com .

They say when certain events take place in a family’s life, it can bring the best out of a family. As tragic as the loss of Bill was, the events from this weekend displayed the special bond between Jackson and his family. Along with DeSean, his mother Gayle and brother Byron answered questions to the media about DeSean’s new foundation and the approach they plan to take on the road to finding a cure.

Ever since they were young, Bill’s fatherhood dream was to see Byron and DeSean make it to the big leagues by playing in the NFL. After spending two years on the practice squad for the Kansas City Chiefs, Byron gave up his NFL career to pursuit another dream of his—filming.

After growing up outside of Hollywood, Byron developed a passion for film and knew he was destined for life behind a camera. One day, he made the decision to create a project about his father’s life and explained during the press conference that ever since the first day of filming, he never knew what to expect. His father had such an amazing personality that he never knew what to expect once the camera was turned on.

The William Jackson Project —which was shown to the media at the press conference—is more than just an amazing story about DeSean’s journey to the NFL; it’s a family film that shows the type of man Bill should be remembered for: a man who loved life and a strong passion for hard work who wanted nothing more than to see his sons succeed in life.

Ever since the first day he decided to start filming his dad, Byron saw nothing but amazing things. Each day was filled with new surprises, and because of this footage, he and his family can re-live classic memories of Bill for the rest of their lives.

While watching Byron’s documentary about his dad, it’s easy to tie together why DeSean is one of the fastest players on the football field. Bill’s hard work and dedication put towards training DeSean had a major impact on the success he’s seen at such an early part of his career—and the joy seen on his father’s face throughout the film seems to have been worth all of those workouts performed as a kid.

After Friday’s events, Jackson spent Saturday hosting his first annual Speed Camp at Penn Charter High School with all proceeds benefiting pancreatic cancer research. Friends, family, and former coaches assisted DeSean with a number of drills to teach the kids about speed and agility. Even his agent Drew Rosenhaus and fellow teammate Jeremy Maclin came out to support the cause.

“It’s part of being teammates,” Maclin said about assisting with the camp. “It’s about maintaining that important relationship with one another—both on and off the field.”

The camp was not only a wonderful way to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer, but to provide advice to the 50-60 kids in attendance who look up to DeSean as a role model. Along with the drills and activities throughout the day to help them improve their football game, Jackson took some time to address everyone about the important facts of life—non-football related. He stressed the importance of education and the value of hard work, explaining how nothing in life is just handed down to you.

Jackson has been a player considered as an underdog most of his life because of his size. Most analysts claimed he would never make it at the college or professional level simply because they thought he was too small to be an effective wideout.

Now, the third-year wideout, who is coming off a historical 2009 season in which he became the first player to make the Pro Bowl for two different positions, finds himself in another position as an underdog with this battle against cancer.

The events from this weekend are just the beginning in Jackson’s battle against cancer. Byron said it best when he described Bill during the press conference as a man with a lot of belief—which is the same approach he and his family will use to fight this disease.

Jackson and his family realize the tough road they face ahead in finding a cure. They want to take advantage of DeSean’s status as a successful NFL player and help fight this cause to help prevent other families from experiencing what they went through by losing Bill.

Their main goal through this new foundation is to create early awareness and convince others to get tested before it’s too late.

“We’re asking people to help 10 friends,” DeSean’s marketing representative Torrey Pocock explained. “We’re asking people to help support it with $10. We’re asking people to spend 10 minutes on the website and learn a little bit more about it, read some stories, and join so that we can communicate with you later.”

Pocock consults in Social Media with Colonial Downs and The Virginia Racing Commission and is an executive in Advertising, Media Training, and Marketing at Torrey Charles and Willner out of Washington D.C. He has worked with DeSean for almost two years and helped organize the events from this past weekend to help raise awareness for this horrendous disease.

With the events of this past weekend and the launch of his new foundation, Jackson is on the right path to finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. He already has a strong supporting cast in his friends and family; now it’s up to his fans to join in and help fight this battle that already took the lives of over 39,000 people last year.

Fans can learn more about pancreatic cancer and The DeSean Jackson Foundation For Pancreatic Cancer at Foundation10.com. Remember, tell 10 friends, donate $10, and spend 10 minutes to learn more about the disease through the site.

Dan Parzych is the Eagles Fan Voice for NFLTouchdown.com.

He is also the founder of the new NFCEastFootball.com.

Questions or comments, feel free to email Dan: djp746@gmail.com


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