The Temple football team has been participating in the annual Komen Philadelphia Race for the Cure since 2006. The Owls, however, will have added roles in Sunday's fund-raiser for breast cancer research at the Eakins Oval/Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Fifteen members of Temple's football family - including head coach Matt Rhule and his wife, Julie - will participate in the 5K race, 5K walk, or 1-mile walk. More than 50 others associated with the Big East program have volunteered to hand out water. And the Owls will don trademarked T-shirts with "Team TUFF."

"In the past with [former head coaches] Al Golden and Steve Addazio . . . it really was a chance for our team to go hand out water," said Rhule, who took over the position vacated by Addazio in December. "Now we've gotten so much more in-depth."

That's because it's personal.

The Rhules have been dealing with breast cancer for a long time.

Thanks to early detection, Matt's mother, Gloria Rhule, has been a breast-cancer survivor for nine years. However, Julie Rhule's mother, Donna Nibert, died in September after a six-year battle.

That same month, Temple senior offensive lineman Evan Regas lost his mother, Susan Untoria. Her breast cancer was diagnosed in 2009.

Matt, Julie, Regas, and Temple football spokeswoman Cathy Bongiovi, whose mother, Rae Bongiovi, is a survivor, all shared their stories on the Temple athletics website.

"By maybe sharing my story somebody else might be able to relate to it," Rhule said. "And it's kind of cool to have people on campus say to me, 'I really appreciate what you guys are doing because I battled it or I lost my mother.'

"And I just think it's a way for us to unify."

On Sunday, the Rhules, Regas, and Bongiovi will serve as Team TUFF captains at the Komen event. They will compete as a way to honor everyone affected by this disease to help raise money for research.

"It's not about me," Rhule said. "It's not about my wife. It's just about us all having something in common with each other in this dreadful, dreadful, dreadful disease."

Contact Keith Pompey at kpompey@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @pompeysgridlock.