In honor of the NFL's Crucial Catch initiative, which encourages early detection and risk reduction of screen able cancers, the Giants continued their tradition of visiting the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in New York City to spend time with patients and their families. On Wednesday, Oct. 12, running back Sandro Platzgummer, outside linebacker Elerson Smith and offensive linemen Nick Gates and Devery Hamilton shared a meal with over 50 patients and their families throughout the course of an evening.
Motivated by a personal connection to the cause, each player contributed meaningfully to the team's impact. Gates, who first visited the Hope Lodge in 2019, articulated his lingering desire to return. It was "nice to be able to give back," Gates shared after losing his grandmother to cancer over a decade ago. His family endured hardship that the Hope Lodge program aims to alleviate.
Hope Lodge locations offer a home away from home for cancer patients and their caregivers. Each community nurtures a supportive, homelike environment where guests can enjoy meals together, join in evening activities or unwind in a private room. Each patient staying at a Hope Lodge is in active cancer treatment and permanently resides more than 40 miles away from their treatment center.
LaToya Williams, Strategic Director for Health Equity, Ambassador – Community Health Initiatives at the American Cancer Society, identified the far-reaching impacts of Crucial Catch at the club level. In her 15 years at the ACS, she's witnessed the tangible influence of the Giants' partnership. Grants are especially impactful in underserved communities where they deliver resources in the form of cancer screening and education. This year, The Giants Foundation earmarked a $5,000 NFL Foundation grant to the ACS' Diversity in Cancer Research Internship.
For Williams, her health equity work at the ACS is driven by personal experience. The Giants' notable win over Baltimore coincided with the weekend Williams celebrated 15 years cancer-free.
"It gives them more fight to go on because there are some days you just want to give up," she acknowledged from her own experience. "It's not just a visit. It's also the impact they're making on a bigger scale. For them to take time to just spend a couple of hours, it means the world to (the Hope Lodge residents)."
Steve Justino and his wife Ruth Carbone embody LaToya's testament. Justino recounted his arrival at Hope Lodge just a day prior. Ruth, who is in active cancer treatment, requires specialized treatment in the area.
"That's my team," Justino exclaimed upon discovering that the Giants were scheduled to visit. "For them to take time out of their lives, their careers, to come here and help people forget what they're going through is awesome."
Angela Quant, Director of Corporate Relations at the American Cancer Society, said patients and their caretakers were already stationed in the lobby area when she arrived early to prepare for the evening.
"The Giants are an absolutely amazing partner to American Cancer Society," Quant said. "Whether it's something like this where you're bringing players out into the community to connect with guests and be a part of their experience here or funding some of our critical health equity work, we really wouldn't be able to have the complete 360 experience for our patients (without them)."