Packers star will wear cleats designed by Rochester 12-year-old Sunday

Local Sports

Ethan Haley won the Alex's Lemonade Stand and Northwestern Mutual Foundation's 'My Cause My Cleats' design competition

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester native Ethan Haley’s artwork will be displayed on the national stage this Sunday. Green Bay Packers star running back Aaron Jones will wear Haley’s design on his cleats as a part of the NFL’s “My Cause My Cleats” campaign.

The game-worn cleats will be auctioned off after Sunday’s Green Bay contest against the Eagles. All proceeds will benefit Alex’s Lemonade Stand, a nonprofit organization changing children’s lives through impactful research, raising awareness, and supporting families to help cure pediatric cancer. That partnership was made possible by the Northwestern Mutual Foundation.

“It means so much to have opportunities to provide joy and create a community of connections for children and families fighting the most unimaginable battle. Aaron’s support and partnership for this cause is the perfect opportunity to continue to raise awareness for the fight against childhood cancer.”

Eric Christophersen, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation:

The cause is near and dear to the 12-year-old’s heart. Haley has been fighting anaplastic ependymoma since March of 2018, when doctors at Strong Memorial Hospital discovered a brain tumor. He has been treated at Golisano Children’s Hospital and the Wilmot Cancer Institute.

“It’s certainly been a tough two and a half years,” Ethan’s father Nate explained. “We’ve tried to find joy in the journey, cherish every moment, and hold tight to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Drawing has been one of Ethan’s passions from a young age. When his mom Kristen received an email from Alex’s Lemonade Stand to enter him in the My Cause My Cleats contest, there was no way she could say no.

“I just thought, ‘oh the kids love doing art together,'” Kristen said. “I thought it would be a fun activity they could do together, never thinking they would win.”

Ethan’s cleat design was revealed Thursday

Ethan likes to make sure his drawings are “perfect”, and his hard work paid off. The design included a full rainbow of colors, with warmer tones towards the middle with greens and blues on toes and heel, as well as a yellow childhood cancer ribbon.

“The design is colorful and the journeys have been colorful for us,” said Kristen. “There have been dark moments like the dark colors on the cleats and there have been light moments. It’s brought him from darkness to light.”

The heel has a checkerboard pattern, which initially caught Jones’ eye.

“He told me how much he liked the cleat and the design,” Ethan said. “He was really nice.”

Jones went above and beyond telling Ethan he won the contest, sending the newest Packers fan a jersey and pair of cleats of his own. Nate, Ethan’s father, still cannot believe it.

“We’re going to be watching the game and something our son wore is going to be in the game,” said Nate. “It’s really exciting. We’re super proud of him using his talents in this regard that can be worn for a good cause.”

Kristen and Nate hope the exposure to ependymoma and Alex’s Lemonade Stand will help the foundation raise money to research for a cure. The disease Ethan has battled over 30 months does not yet have one. Despite all of the challenges, the smile has not left Ethan’s face.

Jones will debut the Haley design Sunday during a 4:05 p.m. kickoff. It’s an afternoon the Haley family will never forget.

Image of cleats courtesy of the Green Bay Packers

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