Courtesy of Dani Callahan
On Dec. 3, Dani Callahan got the chance to do something that not many people can say they’ve done. As the Community Relations Supervisor for the Patriots Foundation, she worked the New England Patriots game that Sunday like usual, but there was a unique piece to her outfit that became a highlight of its own on the sideline. Her sneakers.
Callahan’s sneakers were specially designed as a part of the My Cause, My Cleats initiative. My Cause, My Cleats is an initiative that the National Football League has backed since 2016. Its goal is to highlight the passions of the NFL players by allowing them to select a cause that is important to them and support that cause with custom designed cleats. Each team has a specific My Cause, My Cleats game where all the players wear the special cleats to show support for the causes they chose and the Patriots designated game this year was on Dec. 3.
For the first time ever, the Kraft family and Patriots organization offered ten employees the opportunity to customize their own sneakers this year. The employees applied to be selected and the ten were randomly chosen. Callahan was one of them.
“It was kind of surreal.” Callahan said, “In my head, I wanted to do it so badly that I was almost like ‘I’m manifesting this. I’m going to get picked. I know it’s going to be me.’ And then, when I got the email, I was like ‘Wow, that really happened!’ I was really surprised, but I was really honored and so excited. It was kind of that surreal moment when you work in sports and you’re like ‘Wow, I’m actually here and I’m actually doing this,’ and now I have this opportunity. It’s such a cool opportunity and no one else really has this.”
Callahan chose to support the Women’s Sport Foundation as her cause for a multitude of reasons. She is a woman in the front office and looks to Billie Jean King, the founder of the Women’s Sport Foundation, as her biggest inspiration in the sports realm, but one of her main projects at the Patriots foundation is supporting girls flag football.
“My first task when I got hired here was to start a high school flag football league and I was like ‘I have no idea how to do that, but I’ll try.’ In the past year and a half, I have been able to launch a girls high school flag football league in Massachusetts and we’re seeing it expand into year two and now I’m trying to expand it to all six New England states. So that has become something I’m really passionate about. Just opening up new opportunities for girls to participate in sports.”
The Women’s Sports Foundation’s mission is, “We are the ally, advocate and catalyst for tomorrow’s leaders. We exist to enable girls and women to reach their potential in life and sport.” The foundation provides financial support to aspiring athletes, funds research, aims to educate, advocate and help communities get girls active. Everything that Callahan does in her role with the Patriots, but particularly her work supporting girls flag football, perfectly aligns with the mission of the Women’s Sports Foundation so she was happy to have the chance to represent them on her shoes.
Courtesy of Carolyn Mooney
And the shoes were definitely special. Designed by Eamon White, a designer from Maine who also does all of the Patriots players cleats, Callahan incorporated many unique details onto the shoes to make them one-of-a-kind. The sneakers were white with pink and yellow accents, two colors that are part of the Women’s Sports Foundation color palette. But the most stunning detail Callahan had on her shoes were the initials of powerful and influential women in her life.
“I didn’t tell anyone I was doing that, so I surprised a lot of people.” Callahan said, “That was another fun moment. Some of the girls on our content team, I put their initials on my shoes and I was able to show them and they were all shocked. One of them cried. It was a really special moment for all of us. I put my mom on there, a lot of my high school and college friends, stuff like that.”
The reactions to Callahan’s My Cause, My Cleats shoes were nothing but positive. She recalls co-workers asking to see the sneakers while in the office and feeling the general excitement from those around her. But she found surprising the women whose initials she’d chosen for the shoes to be the most special and precious reactions. “The initial excitement around the shoes and then on top of that being able to surprise people like that was really special for me and the people I was able to honor.”
It’s certain that Callahan will cherish her unique experience participating in My Cause, My Cleats for many years to come. She loved being able to support something she cares about while showing her creative side through the one-of-a-kind sneakers. We look forward to seeing her continue to create opportunities for women in sports as she continues on her journey.
And her advice to fellow women in sports? “Have the confidence, respect what you know that you have to say and make sure that people around you hear you and recognize that as well.”
You can learn more about the Women’s Sports Foundation at https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/ and you can follow Callahan through her sports journey on Instagram at @dcallll.