Miami Heat forward Juwan Howard is betting on talent and teamwork to lead him to a championship.But he is also betting on teamwork to find a cure for cancer.Â In January, Howard found out that his longtime childhood friend, Lamont Carter, 38 — whom he calls his brother — had cancer and had only a month to live.“When you have a loved one going through this, it takes you by surprise and it really hits home,” Howard said in a phone interview. Â With Howard’s best friend as an inspiration, he went on a mission in his new town to help fight cancer. Â Together with his wife Jenine, he launched The Juice Foundation in July — the title comes from the nickname Carter received after turning to a diet of organic foods and juices to help fight the disease. Â Juice became an extension of Howard’s own long-running foundation, The Juwan Howard Foundation, which took off in 1994 to help at-risk inner-city kids.
Howard grew up on the south side of Chicago and was playing for the Portland Trail Blazers before he signed with the Heat this summer.Â Juice will focus on combating cancer by raising awareness and funds for centers and individuals seeking alternative healing, according to Jenine Howard.Â The organization will also concentrate on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, as a way to improve survival, she said.Â The alternative medicine approach was a key point for Juwan and Jenine Howard.“We believe the alternative treatment is why Juice is still here today,” Jenine Howard said.Â The Howards said they were forced to look at other ways to cure cancer after Carter’s immune system was unable to accept traditional treatment.
“The cancer had spread all over his spine, lungs, everywhere,” said Juwan Howard, 37.The search for a better answer led the Howards and Carter beyond the U.S. borders for help. Carter began receiving costly treatment at an alternative medicine clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, according to Jenine Howard.Â Part of Carter’s treatment included an organic diet and lots of juice. While the cancer wasn’t cured, when he returned to the United States, he was now able to accept traditional forms of treatment therapy, said Jenine Howard. Carter is still battling the disease, but the Howards remain hopeful.Â The foundation has teamed with the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
“Studies thoroughly demonstrated when patients’ nutritional status is not optimal, their ability to tolerate cancer therapy is significantly comprised,” said Dr. Julio Barredo, pediatric oncologist and director of Children’s Cancer Programs at the University of Miami.Â According to Jenine Howard, University of Miami’s Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Care Center was the perfect fit.“I was so surprised to find out that the they were even open to considering alternative medicine in treating cancer,’ she said.
Juice partnered with the University of Miami and hosted its first fundraising event Oct. 23 during Miami’s Funkshion Fashion Week. The Fashion for a Cause event consisted of a kids fashion show at the Bass Museum in Miami Beach.Â Children who were receiving cancer treatments at the University of Miami walked the runway along with Howard’s children and those of some of his current and former teammates.
Shakira Wardally, executive director of The Juice Foundation, said she is still receiving donations from the event and expects to raise at least $50,000. The money will go to the University of Miami cancer center, including its children’s programs and the Juice Foundation.Â Deanna Stinson, a Miami resident attending the event, said having a children’s event was the right beginning to starting Juwan Howard’s charity efforts in Miami.
“It was truly about the kids,” said Stinson, amid fans lingering after the show to snap a photo with Howard and teammates in attendance. Currently, Juice is the only part of the Juwan Howard Foundation that is active in Miami. Howard, however, has future plans to extend his parent foundation to Miami and help ward off social diseases such as illiteracy.
“We plan to keep the momentum in Miami,” he said.
For more information on The Juice Foundation, go to www.juicefoundation.org or call 713-303-1917.