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It’s cleat week … and that means NFL players get to sport shoes with a purpose. For Chicago Bear Jordan Howard, it’s an opportunity to share a personal yet painful story … but one he hopes will change the playing field for patients battling a horrific disease.

Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears running back: “I think about him every day. I know he’s always with me even though he’s not here in body, but I know he’s here in spirit. He always motivates me, and this is all we ever talked about.”

Jordan was just 12 years old when his father, Dr Reginald B. Howard, died after battling pulmonary fibrosis, an aggressive and deadly disease that causes scarring in the lungs.

Dr Philip Sheridan, critical care pulmonologist, NorthShore University HealthSystem: “This is normal appearing lung, which is in the upper lobes. But as we scroll down the lungs become white, and what this represents is a shrinking and a scarring of the lungs.”

To honor his father look for these cleats charging down the field when Jordan and the Bears face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. But the shoes are only part of his purpose. The young running back has committed to helping the 200,000 patients living with the debilitating condition and spreading the word about pulmonary fibrosis.

Jordan Howard: “I told them my story and how we’re going to keep fighting this disease.”

There are newer drugs available that seem to slow the progression of the disease – but they are extremely expensive. And just this week, Cedars-Sinai researchers in Los Angeles announced a possible cause – stem cells in the lungs that typically help airways repair themselves fail in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. The discovery may lead to better treatments. But for now, there is no cure and life expectancy is just a few years after diagnosis.

Dr Philip Sheridan, critical care pulmonologist, NorthShore University HealthSystem: “You feel like you are suffocating. It’s a very difficult disease.”

After the game Jordan’s cleats will be auctioned off with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, a national organization based here in Chicago. Jordan’s cleats will be auctioned online from 12/4-12/9 at

To learn more, go to or call (844) TalkPFF (844-825-5733) or (312) 587-9272