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NFL Player Supports Pet-Friendly Initiative for Abuse Survivors

For NFL player James Smith-Williams, it started with a challenge. The Washington Commanders defensive end was a student at North Carolina State University when he heard a speaker named Brenda Tracy talk about her experience surviving sexual assault. James told reporters, “Her biggest takeaway was, ‘If you’re a good man, what are you doing to be a good man?’ That really stuck with me.”

Once he entered the NFL, Smith-Williams partnered with Tracy’s nonprofit to establish a network of players who raise money and awareness for nonprofits that support survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault. Because October has been deemed as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, he has been supporting the Purple Leash Project. This initiative seeks to make domestic violence shelters more friendly for pets, because of their potential for emotional support.

According to Smith-Williams, only 15% of current shelters even allow pets. “About half of the people who are in domestic violence situations delay leaving because of their pet. Pets are family too. Ensuring that people who have pets and who are in these situations have a place to go, I just think that is so important.”

Smith-Williams recently helped build doghouses at a local shelter who received a Purple Leash Project grant. He also wore a pair of purple cleats during a game in support of the charity. “As long as I have the ability to help out, I definitely will.”

Possible Preaching Angle:

Having an effective witness is more than just avoiding sinful or abusive behavior. It’s also taking action in helping to defend and assist people suffering abuse in order to demonstrate the love of God to people who hurting.

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