Washington State kicker Dean Janikowski has raised more than $77,000 for cancer patients

Apr. 19—Every time Washington State kicker Dean Janikowski laces up his cleats and goes out to attempt a field goal under the Saturday night lights, he's not just kicking for his football team, he has nearly $1,000 on the line for a cancer charity started in his mom's name.

Since Janikowski and his family started the Heather Janikowski Foundation in 2022, the WSU senior says he has helped raise more than $77,000 for cancer patients and their families on the Palouse.

Janikowski has held two "More Than A Kick" campaigns, which raise money based on donations per point he scores on the football field with field goals and extra points.

And today, Janikowski will host his second "Kicking Cancer" fundraiser event from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Zeppoz in Pullman. His goal is to raise another $50,000.

The best part?

Every cent raised goes directly to cancer patients.

"The thing about our foundation especially is 100% of that money goes to those fighting cancer," Janikowski said. "So everyone who works for me ... they all do it for free. So we don't pay anyone, and everyone does it out of the kindness of their heart."

How it started

Nearly a decade after she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and after going into remission multiple times, Heather Janikowski died Jan. 19, 2022.

Dean Janikowski said his mom was "super connected to the community" in their hometown of Fallbrook, Calif., and "was always helping those around her whether it was people fighting cancer, or whether it was daycare, or whether it was helping out around our small town."

The foundation's website says Heather Janikowski helped hold the hands of dying cancer patients even while she was going through her own cancer treatments.

So Dean, his father Dan, his brother Jack and his sister Megan all decided they wanted to start a foundation in Heather's name. They began by conducting 5K runs and hikes in California in 2022.

A year later, Dean Janikowski got the idea of starting events in Pullman, too.

The prolific kicker had made a bit of a name for himself after earning first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a freshman in 2021. It didn't hurt that he has the same last name as one of the best NFL kickers of all time, Sebastian Janikowski, although there is no relation.

"I wanted to use my brand to be able to make something out of it as well and help out the people here in Pullman because the people in Pullman have been so great to me," Janikowski said.

"Kicking Cancer"

Today's fundraiser at Zeppoz in Pullman will include a bowling tournament, a silent auction and a live auction.

Every person who sponsors a lane gets a bowler from the WSU football team.

Some of the 50 auction items include four round-trip tickets to anywhere in the country, donated by Alaska Airlines; an electric bike built by Janikowski; barbecues; signed footballs; a one-week stay in Hawaii; a one-week stay in Pullman and golf packages.

Janikowski said last year's Kicking Cancer fundraiser raised $39,000. He's hoping for $50,000 this time.

'More Than A Kick'

Janikowski has held two "More Than A Kick" campaigns during fall football seasons in 2022 and '23, raising more than $37,000 total, and he hopes to do it a third time this year.

How it works is people pledge money for every point the kicker scores.

Janikowski has drilled at least 10 field goals and 39 extra points each of the last three seasons.

Already one of the most pressure-filled positions in sports, there's even more pressure on Janikowski knowing there's charity money on the line with each boot.

"I always say it's good added pressure when they ask me about just the foundation and raising money like that, because I think it kind of keeps me on my game," Janikowski said. "It seriously is 'more than a kick' — I have to go out there and I'm doing this for more than just me and more than a singular kick and stuff like that.

"So I like the pressure and it helps me perform my best, honestly."

Keeping it going

Janikowski said the foundation has helped "five or six different people who really need these medical treatments" on the Palouse.

A young girl from Colfax recently received a bone marrow transplant. Another recipient received $10,000 to drive to Seattle and stay there for a month while receiving much-needed treatment.

Janikowski, who is working on his Master of Business Administration degree and has dreams of playing in the NFL, says he hopes to continue the fundraisers after he graduates.

"It's been super cool meeting all these people and hearing their stories," Janikowski said. "And really our goal for this is to continue keeping this around ... and just keep building this foundation up and just strive toward 100% of that money going out to those people who need it the most."

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, or on Twitter @StephanSports.