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Fenton Students’ Persistence Convinces Philadelphia Eagles Star to ‘Purple Out’ for Pancreatic Cancer

DeSean Jackson initially said no when students at Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School asked him to wear purple socks to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer. What changed his mind?

A foundation established by Philadelphia Eagles star DeSean Jackson and his mother is supporting Fenton middle school students' "Purple Out" campaign to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer.
A foundation established by Philadelphia Eagles star DeSean Jackson and his mother is supporting Fenton middle school students' "Purple Out" campaign to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer.

A news release:

DeSean Jackson, of the Philadelphia Eagles, and his foundation, The DeSean Jackson Foundation, have teamed up with the Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School, in Fenton, Michigan to raise awareness to Pancreatic Cancer and advocate for research for funding and support for those diagnosed with this dreadful disease and their families.

DeSean Jackson and his mother, Gayle Jackson, founded The DeSean Jackson Foundation in 2009 in memory of William “Bill” Jackson, DeSean’s father who died shortly after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“I lost my hero, my best friend and my father to pancreatic cancer and I deal with that loss each and every day of my life; but, right now it’s not about me and family,” DeSean Jackson said. “It’s about AGS and these kids who reached across the league to me to help their voices be heard.”

In October 2013, the Jacksons were contacted by Jill Smigiel, a teacher at AGS, through Twitter on behalf of several student athletes who were adamant about the fact that pancreatic cancer receives less funding for research and less national attention than other cancers; and, the life expectancy is less than other cancers. The students wanted to encourage NFL players to wear purple in November to raise awareness to pancreatic cancer, just as they wore pink across the league in October for National Breast Cancer Awareness.

The students challenged DeSean Jackson to Stand Up for Pancreatic Cancer by being the first to wear purple socks during the month of November in the NFL. Mrs. Jackson advised the students that would not be possible. Then, students decided to advocate by wearing purple socks themselves in protest.

Mrs. Jackson was so impressed by their solidarity and advocacy that she convinced her son, DeSean, to help AGS develop a national platform so their voices would be heard. Thus, the AGS “Purple Out” has been embraced by the administration, faculty and student population; and, Monday, November 25th the students planned to launch his historical, inaugural event.

DeSean Jackson commends AGS for helping their students develop a life-long pattern of advancing the common good of becoming successful, purposeful members of society with empathy and compassion for the less fortunate.

Jackson requests that media attention be focused on AGS during the “Purple Out” and the real story about pancreatic cancer and its impact on our society will be heard in the voices of those who know it best. “It’s not about me today,” Jackson said. “It’s about AGS and the kids.”

Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School

Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School (“AGS”) is a public middle school in Fenton Township with a student population of 759 students in grades 6-8; and home of the Fenton Tigers.

The student to teacher ratio is 17.1 AGS is part of the Fenton Public School District, an acclaimed international baccalaureate program, with a comprehensive curriculum that includes French, Spanish for middle school students; and, extra-curricular activities that include band, ceramic sculpture, chorus, computer arts, drawing/painting, theatre/drama, and video film [roduction

Heidie Ciesielski  is the principal at Andrew G. Schmidt Middle School. In May 2013, Ciesielski was named ‘The Best Middle School Principal” by the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals.


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