SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — When SU defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu makes a play to be proud of, the fans go wild, but to him, there’s a cheer missing.
Breast cancer took his mom when he was 13. She’d never see him play for the Orange.
“All she told me in life was be the Caleb she always knew. I try to be that Caleb,” Okechukwu said. “I live my life to honor her.”
He and two teammates are raising money for charity with Marshall Street-area restaurant Purple Banana. Whoever sells the most of a signature smoothie gets some of the revenue and a bonus $1000.
“They can do NIL stuff for their own benefit,” said Luke Nicolette, owner of Purple Banana. “I said, ‘You guys want to make some money or raise some money for charity?’ No hesitation all three of them, ‘Let’s raise some money for charity.’ That’s when I knew I had the right guys.”
Marlowe Wax and Justin Barron chose Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital as their charity. Okechukwu chose the Susan G. Komen fund, which helps raise money to support breast cancer patients and fund research for treatment.
Then, they got to choose their signature smoothie flavors.
Okechukwu chose pumpkin spice for the fall season. It’s not his personal favorite, but he hopes it will be a bestseller.
“Marlowe and JB’s smoothies, they’re good, but I’m going to pick mine,” Okechukwu said. “Come get my smoothie.”
He even got behind the counter to whip one up.
Okechukwu admits he loses sleep at night when the team loses, like last week when the Orange lost to Clemson, but knows the real winning is done off the field.