Healthcare firm Russo Partners has launched the Sports-Health Alliance, a service that leverages the firm’s access to pro athletes, broadcasters and sports business leaders to focus public attention on diseases and their treatments.

“We have chosen to affiliate with sports figures who have a passion for healthy living and who identify with a disease, injury or physical malady,” said CEO Tony Russo.

David Schull, Tony Russo & Solomon Wilcots(L to R) David Schull, president, Russo Partners; Tony Russo, founder & CEO; and Solomon Wilcots, Sports-Health Alliance team lead & former NFL player-turned-broadcaster

The alliance will promote clinical trial recruitment, develop disease awareness initiatives, and implement branding strategies and corporate visibility initiatives.

The alliance has already produced such programs as the “Huddle up for Alzheimer’s” campaign done on behalf of Axovant Sciences. That program, which received the PRSA-NY Big Apple Award for Marketing Consumer Services in Healthcare incorporated former NFL players as role models to encourage people to get tested for Alzheimer’s disease.

One of those players is former NFL player Solomon Wilcots, whose six-year pro football career included stints with the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Pittsburgh Steelers. Following his time on the gridiron, Wilcots worked as a broadcaster, spending 16 years with CBS Sports. Wilcots is a major player in the Sports-Health Alliance overall, serving as Russo Partners’ team leader for the endeavor.

Participation across a wide range of professional sports is expected, says Russo, including basketball, tennis, soccer and golf.

Wilcots said the cutting-edge health technology that pro athletes benefit from makes them particularly effective spokespeople for delivering messages about advances in healthcare to a mainstream audience. “We have sincere, emotional connections to a cause,” Wilcots said.

Founded in 1988, Russo Partners (formerly Noonan/Russo Communications) offers public and investor relations and corporate communications services to healthcare companies.