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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Cason Cares’ about cancer

    Arizona football player Antoine Cason has never been shy about being a role model in the local community.

    Now he’s taking that part to a new level, raising money for the American Cancer Society in memory of his role model.

    Cason lost his grandfather, Royce Rambo, to myelodysplastic syndrome, a form of leukemia, on Feb. 6.

    In his honor, the senior has launched the “”Cason Cares”” fundraiser with former teammate Matt Brooks, who also is paying tribute to three family members lost to cancer.

    “”The reason why I wanted to do this is just because he’s been so influential in my life,”” Cason said of his grandfather. “”He’s done everything for our family with no complaints.

    “”It’s just something to show my appreciation, even though he can’t see it. It just makes me feel better.””

    Cason, a political science senior, and Brooks, a journalism senior and former quarterback, have been selling wristbands with the slogan “”Cason Cares”” around campus – at tailgates and at the McKale Center Ticket Office.

    Last week, Shawn Marion of the Phoenix Suns and general manager Steve Kerr were wearing the bands during their preseason workouts in McKale. Kerr even grabbed a bag of them to distribute in Phoenix.

    “”They were real supportive of it,”” Cason said. “”That makes me feel great to see that from people like that because they’re influential in their cities, towns, everywhere. They’re people’s role models. To help me with that is great.

    “”I just want to show a greater appreciation for something that we can’t control all the time,”” he added. “”It’s just a humbling experience to see how it’s going.””

    The two students started the campaign in June but had the idea of doing it last year. When the idea came up, Brooks agreed to direct the campaign because he understood what Cason went through in losing someone to cancer.

    “”I saw him really upset, almost to the point of tears,”” Brooks said. “”I shared my experience. He said he really wished he could do something.””

    Brooks and Cason put some ideas together and presented a package to the school. The response was all positive.

    “”It’s rare,”” Brooks said. “”You don’t see college athletes doing this, partly because they’re not allowed to use their name, but you just also don’t see people that are going to spend that extra time between school and football.

    “”What it came down to was hard work and wanting to do it. Nobody forced him to do it. It’s something we both wanted to do because we know how horrible this disease is.””

    Due to NCAA rules, college athletes are prohibited from using their name to raise money for businesses or nonprofit organizations. But with the help of UA’s compliance office, Cason was granted permission to sell 2,500 bracelets for $3 apiece. Brooks said the goal is to be sold out by Homecoming on Nov. 3.

    Cason surprised his grandmother with the fundraiser, saying it brought her great pleasure to know her grandson wanted to pay a special tribute.

    Cason lived with Rambo, his grandfather, for two years in Long Beach, Calif. Rambo would cook all three meals for the family every day, Cason said.

    Brooks lived with his grandmother during her chemotherapy treatments. As he and Cason both witnessed a family member suffer from cancer, they were bound together.

    “”Antoine is a black kid from Southern California. He’s Christian. I’m a white, Jewish kid from Florida,”” Brooks said. “”Different sides of the country, different religions, different skin color. Aside from being friends, we both have something in common. We both lost people to cancer. Cancer doesn’t see what skin color you are, what religion you are. It’s a disease that so many people have been affected by that we want to do our part to help.””

    Cason, a star cornerback for the Wildcats, skipped out on the NFL draft in April so he could return for his senior season.

    “”You can’t duplicate your college experience,”” he said in July.

    He can now add philanthropy to his already polished resume, which also includes his being one of the better defensive backs in college football.

    If his path after this season should lead him to the NFL, “”Cason Cares”” might be expanded to a more national level, like Lance Armstrong’s “”Livestrong”” bracelets that also raise money for cancer research.

    “”We’ve definitely talked about it,”” Brooks said. “”It’s definitely something that I see him doing and me always helping him with.

    “”More important than being a great football player, Antoine is a great person and he’s a very, very good friend,”” he added. “”He’s someone that will be there for you. It takes a lot of guts to do something like this. A lot of people talk about doing something, but the difference is me and Antoine are actually doing it.””

    UA athletic director Jim Livengood said he agrees.

    “”Antoine Cason is just one of the most amazing young men I’ve ever been around,”” he said. “”He’s not just a gifted athlete, he’s a very good, good student and a terrific young man. He’s got great principles and values and he’s just the kind of student-athlete that any coach in any sport would be so very proud of.

    “”It doesn’t surprise me a bit, because this is exactly what Antoine’s all about.””

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