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Two Ball State softball stars use NIL to help cure cancer

MUNCIE, Ind. (WISH) — It’s been nearly two years since the NCAA started allowing collegiate athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness. Some are now making millions in endorsements.

While athletes all over the country profit off NIL deals, two Ball State softball players are using their notoriety to give back.

“I just want to make a bigger impact. I don’t need it for myself. I want to give it to people who need it more than I do,” Cardinals junior pitcher Emma Eubank said.

When Eubank and junior outfielder Hannah Dukeman aren’t playing softball for Ball State, they’re trying to cure cancer. Emma studying to be a Ph.D. researcher, and Hannah a pediatric oncologist.

In the meantime, the two roommates are hoping to help the cause while their on the field.

“[In the] NFL and NBA, they all have customized cleats and shoes and stuff like that, and that was kind of like the first idea we had,” Dukeman said. “After the game, sometimes they give them to their fans. So, we were kind of thinking on a smaller level obviously, having an auction where everything goes to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Indiana. Will kind of help with our cause at a lower level.”

The designs feature ribbons symbolizing different types of cancer. One of Eubank’s cleats is dedicated to her late uncle Timmy – who died at 14 of brain cancer.

“It just feels like something’s missing from the family,” Eubank said. “I never even got to meet him, so that was really hard for me, knowing I never got to see him or meet him. But I still just feel his presence at family Christmases or family events.”

“A couple of my grandparents now are battling cancer,” Dukeman said. “It’s such a big, so frequent, so often in our world, and then when it hits home to you for like your family and stuff, it’s just like a tough issue to deal with and cope with.”

“I don’t want to see families go through what we had to go through,” Eubank said. “I see kids suffer from the chemo and radiation that they have to receive on a daily basis. You know, new therapeutics is something that we desperately need today, and hopefully, I hope to one day get in the lab and make some new therapeutics for some kids.”

Dukeman and Eubank didn’t even tell their team about this idea until they just showed up to a game wearing these brand-new custom cleats. Their teammates were quick to notice.

“Everyone was like, ‘What are those? What are those?’ Emma and I hadn’t really told people about it. We just kind of wanted to make sure it happened before we said anything. A lot of people think it’s super cool. They’re jealous. They’re like, ‘Wow, we had no idea,’” Dukeman said.

“I just hope this kind of rubs off on other people and see like, everybody’s passionate about something, so I hope they can start something like we did,” Eubank said.

All the auction proceeds will go to cancer research. Click here to donate to the cause and place bids on the cleats.