May 1 is Keep Pounding Day

Created by the Carolina Panthers, Keep Pounding Day is an annual day of service occurring on May 1. The day honors the spirit and legacy of legendary Panthers linebacker (#51) and coach Sam Mills Jr.

Mills played 15 years professionally, earning five Pro Bowl selections. Following his playing career, he stayed with the Carolina Panthers as an assistant coach for seven seasons. While coaching, Mills was diagnosed with cancer and told he had only months to live, but he never let it keep him from coaching. Prior to a playoff game following the 2003 season, he gave the team his immortal “Keep Pounding” speech, which has since become a mantra for the Panthers. Mills continued to coach the team until his eventual passing from cancer complications on April 18, 2005.

This year, Mills will be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2022.


The Significance of Keep Pounding

Nearly two decades later, “Keep Pounding” lives on as the official slogan of the Carolina Panthers and the motivation behind a significant portion of the professional sports team’s philanthropic giving. Established by the Panthers and Atrium Health Foundation in 2003, the Keep Pounding Fund supports cancer research efforts throughout Atrium Health. Since its establishment, the Keep Pounding Fund has received over $3.6 million in charitable gifts, which exclusively benefit cancer programs at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and Atrium Health Levine Children’s.

In 2019, the Carolina Panthers committed $1 million to the Keep Pounding Fund to support clinical research at Levine Cancer Institute. In recognition of the transformational gift, LCI established the Keep Pounding Family Center. Located on the third floor of LCI-II, the center includes four computer bays, a bistro area, a TV-viewing space, and a full-time guest services representative. Exterior windows and natural light create a calming environment in the center, which features a Keep Pounding theme throughout, including a mural that pays tribute to the late Sam Mills Jr.


Register for the 12th Annual Keep Pounding 5K

On Keep Pounding Day, community members are encouraged to volunteer and give back. One impactful way to do so is by registering for the 12th Annual Keep Pounding 5K and fundraising on behalf of cancer initiatives at Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute and Atrium Health Levine Children’s. Co-presented by Rodgers Builders and JELD-WEN, this year’s event will welcome patient families, care providers, corporate sponsors, and community supporters back to where “the big cats prowl!” To register and begin fundraising, visit