Bringing awareness and support to children & families fighting cancer, through the game of football.

Cleats vs Cancer was founded in 2018 by Derek Sparks, former Washington State running back and 1994 Alamo Bowl veteran. It is the first high school All-Star game, featuring many of the state of Washington’s most outstanding senior football players, in which proceeds benefit children and families battling cancer.

Derek Sparks & Daughter Ze'Lee

Derek Sparks, who was an assistant coach at Pacific Lutheran University and a football Coach at Kennedy Catholic High School, was thrust into the fight against cancer when his daughter, Ze’Lee, was stricken with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2018. Thankfully, Ze’Lee is now cancer-free. In August of 2021, Derek was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and began his own fight against cancer. He fought a valiant fight but sadly lost his battle with cancer on November 23, 2021.

Support from fans throughout the country

Cougar fans, Husky fans, and football fans and coaches from across the country have been supportive of both Derek’s and Ze’Lee’s fight, sending encouragement via social media and vowing to keep the Cleats vs Cancer mission of bringing awareness and support to children and families fighting cancer.

Something bigger than football

Cleats vs Cancer is fueled by giving high school football players an opportunity to showcase their football skills to help lead them into a football opportunity in college. The players and coaches who participate in our All-Star Games and Skills Camps also know that their participation is for a greater cause than just football. Cancer has touched the lives of so many of our participants. Their cancer stories are our driving force. Cleats vs Cancer is about bringing people together through the love of football to help families battling cancer.

Community partners & sponsors

There is no shortage of Cougar spirit involved in the event. In addition to Sparks, former WSU and Seahawks standout Robbie Tobeck of Griffin MacLean Insurance is helping underwrite the event; KJR and Q13 sportscaster Ian Furness will be calling the action at the stadium; former Cougar football star, Michael Bumpus will be our event Lead Coach along with Sumner coach, Keith Ross. WSU football great Jay Dumas will be the head coach for one of our south teams. Even Husky Damon Huard and his Passing Time Winery are pitching in as a sponsor. Please help us help others, by donating to Cleat vs Cancer. The Spark family thanks everyone for their love and support.