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Combining Art, Sport, and Philanthropy Around the NFL Draft in Detroit

Have You Seen the Colossal Cleats Around the City? This is DCLEATED!


The NFL Draft is one of the largest, multi-day events Detroit has ever hosted, and it’s a spectacular platform for the city to show the world what it’s all about.

Those involved from Visit Detroit to the City of Detroit to the Mayor share a vision to, “Do the draft differently” than other cities by incorporating communities and neighborhoods, and also by layering in cultural identity and philanthropy so that the benefits of the draft last well beyond April 25, 26 and 27th.

As up to a million fans are anticipated to embark upon Detroit for the highly anticipated event, a unique art installation project called DCLEATED will showcase the talent of local artists while raising awareness and funds for vital Detroit-based causes.

“There’s a lot of talent within the city that the world needs to see,” said DCLEATED artist Tiera Knaff.

“I’m a newer artist in the Detroit art scene so I feel really lucky to have this opportunity to share my work,” said artist Jess Fendo, whose charity of choice is the Belle Isle Conservancy.Screen Shot 2024 04 12 at 11.54.01 AM

City Walls leads the DCLEATED project with support from Visit Detroit, the Detroit Sports Commission, and the Detroit Medical Center.

“The art scene in Detroit is booming and this project helps to amplify our local artists by giving them the space and opportunity to shine while enhancing the city and supporting local charities to benefit all,” says Bethany Howard, City Walls Program Manager.

About this, artist Tony Whlgn says, “The city’s choice to highlight talented artists while beautifying the community is fitting and I’m happy to be a part of it.” Whlgn’s charity of choice is Gleaners.

Mayor Mike Duggan says, “Over the course of the past decade, Detroit has become known as more than the Motor City and Motown, we have become internationally known for our art scene. The City Walls program has worked with talented Detroit artists to turn more than 200 walls across Detroit into beautiful works of art, and now it’s bringing murals on cleats to the streets of Downtown Detroit to celebrate the NFL Draft.”

Howard says the project was inspired by the NFL’s My Cleats My Cause program, and the idea is to magnify it in a huge way by placing colossal cleats in key locations across the city.

These colossal cleats serve as canvases for 20 Detroit artists to unleash their creativity. Each artist selected through a competitive open call process, partnered with a local non-profit with a mission they are passionate about, integrating their story and message into their cleat design.

Said Knaff, “This opportunity means the world to me because not only am I able to give back to my city doing what I love to do, but I also get to give back to the youth through my chosen charity, TeenHype. I’m always going to be an advocate for leading and inspiring the youth to be creative because that’s what keeps the world evolving”Screen Shot 2024 04 12 at 11.55.57 AM

Visit Detroit and the Detroit Sports Commission worked to procure online auction services and are managing the online auction for the DCLEATED cleats. By leveraging their extensive network of partners and stakeholders, they reach a wider audience to raise more funds for Detroit-based charities.

“The number of stakeholders and organizations and charities involved, and the community engagement has been astronomical,” says Howard. “This helps facilitate deep networking for the artists, and all who are involved and that is a beautiful and magical thing.”

Fendo agrees, saying, “Artists in Detroit love to collaborate and I believe nonprofits do too. Being able to work alongside other wonderful artists and organizations is a big opportunity.”

“The “DCLEATED” program fosters creativity, innovation, and cultural identity in Detroit by combining art, sport, and philanthropy,” said Harriet Carter, Vice President of Customer and Partner Services at Visit Detroit. “It’s inspiring to see City Walls x City of Detroit investing in their local artists, and “DCLEATED” is a shining example of community-driven initiatives surrounded by a significant event such as the NFL Draft.”Screen Shot 2024 04 12 at 11.56.03 AM

The auction – which is live for the month of April – will conclude with an event celebrating the artists and their charities, sponsored by the Detroit Medical Center. The auction will close, with all proceeds directly benefiting the corresponding local causes.

Artist Joshua Mullen, whose charity of choice is American Indian Health and Family Services, sums it up well by saying, “Showcasing my art by representing the cause and contributing to the action for the upcoming NFL draft was the ideal situation to amplify and share the message of all the highlighted charities. Detroit is a beautiful place and being able to celebrate the city gives me great pride.”

Meet the DCLEATED Artists and corresponding charities, and learn the locations below.

Detroit Charity / Non-Profit / Cause Artists Cleat Location


Chazz Miller Motor City

Casino Hotel

Detroit Hives, Inc. Cameron Jenkins Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney
American Indian Health & Family Services Joshua Mulligan Fort Pontchartrain
Detroit Impact Andrea Slomczenski Courtyard Marriott
New Era Community Connection


Rick Williams aka Metal Feet Shinola – Parker’s Alley
Kids Without Cancer


Juliana Rabban Coleman A. Young International Airport
Belle Isle Conservancy


Jess Fend MGM Casino

The Doc Dennard Fellowship


Caleb Moss Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center
Rags Remembered Wendy Popko The Westin Book Cadillac Hotel
The Children’s Center


Trae Isaac DMC Children’s Hospital
Ride for Ride, Inc.


Ghostbeard Godfrey Hotel
Girl Scouts of SE MI Laura Mettam & Kay Blair Detroit Foundation Hotel

United Negro College Fund


Marlo Broughton Wayne County Airport – Evans Terminal

Gleaners Community Food Bank


Tony Whlgn® Wayne Country Airport – McNamara Terminal
Project Play

Detroit Sports Commission

Youth Sports Partner for 2024 NFL Draft


Phil Simpson Huntington Place
Beyond Basics

Detroit Sports Commission

Literacy Partner for 2024 NFL Draft

Jennifer Maples CAYMC
Teen Hype Tiera Knaff Greektown

Hotel Lobby

Blight Busters Robin Speth Capitol Park

Motor City Street Dance Academy


Richie Blanko Cambria
Cody Rouge Community Action Alliance and the

Detroit Lions Foundation

Kenyada Kelsaw (Fel’le) Ford Field


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