On Saturday afternoon, several Sporting KC players joined NAPA KC and The National Guard to host a barbecue and soccer clinic for local military families affected by injuries obtained during service for our country.
The idea for the gathering was originally proposed by Sporting KC defender Kevin Ellis, who has strong family ties to the United States military. Ellis was joined by teammates Matt Besler, Mikey Lopez, Andy Gruenebaum and Graham Zusi for a pick-up game of soccer with the families before enjoying barbecue and ice cream at the Swope Soccer Village. At the end of the event, each of the families received a signed soccer ball from the players.
"It takes a special person to do what they do and I can't put into words the respect I have for these guys," said Ellis, a Kansas City native who has made 14 MLS appearances for the club this season.
For the past three years, Sporting Kansas City and The Victory Project have teamed up with Braden’s Hope for Childhood Cancer to create a calendar featuring players and “Hope Heroes” – children who are battling or have survived cancer. On Tuesday, the 2015 calendar photo shoot was held at Sporting Park.
For the players involved, it was a rewarding experience they will never forget. One of these players was forward C.J. Sapong, who has been a part of the calendar each of the last two years.
“It honestly brightens up your day when you see a soul that has gone through so much that is able really to just shut off whatever mode they are probably in and engulf themselves in the moment. To be a part of that is really cool,” Sapong said.
The 2015 Braden’s Hope Calendar will be available in the fall and all proceeds go directly to raise awareness and funds for targeted treatments of childhood cancer.
To honor National Recycling Month in April, Sporting Kansas City along with The Victory Project and the Sporting Club Network have been hosting a series of donation drives for new and gently used soccer gear. Fans attending pre-designated games and events were encouraged to clean out their garages and bring used soccer equipment to the collection sites. At the conclusion of the campaign, more than 100 pairs of soccer cleats, shin guards and soccer balls were contributed to the cause.
Last night, a clinic was hosted featuring Sporting KC players, coaches and nearly 70 kids from the El Padrino soccer league at Soccer Nation in Wyandotte County. Thanks to the support of KCP&L, each child was provided food and given a drawstring bag with a soccer ball, water bottle and t-shirt. Each child was also able to go home with a pair of donated soccer cleats.
"This is a big event for us because our fans have been donating used soccer equipment," Sporting KC assistant coach Mateus Manoel said. "As we know, without equipment you can't really play. So for them, it's a joy to be able to have some of this stuff and learn from some of our coaches."
Check out the video above for sights and sounds from the event, as well as the photo slideshow below.
With the start of the 2014 season less than two weeks away, Sporting Kansas City is immersed in their preseason schedule including training and participating in the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Even with their jam-packed schedule, the team set aside some time on Sunday to give back to the local community. Sporting KC players and The Victory Project teamed up with USL PRO affiliate Orlando City SC to visit the special kids staying at the Give Kids the World Village located in nearby Kissimmee, Florida.
Players -- including Dom Dwyer, C.J. Sapong, Christian Duke, Oriol Rosell, Aurelien Collin and Seth Sinovic -- participated in the Village’s “Candyland” theme night and spent time playing games, eating cotton candy and riding the carousel with kids and their families. The Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre, non-profit “story book” resort, where children with life-threatening illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free fantasy vacations.
“We are just here to try and amplify the smiles and amplify the love - so far so good,” said Sapong.
The Victory Project, Sporting KC’s foundation, has a mission to help children thrive through challenges and was founded in 2013. For more information please visit VictoryKC.org or follow us on Twitter.
On Wednesday, Sporting KC hosted the club’s first ladies night – Pumps on the Pitch. The special ticket package included entry into a pre-game party where women of all ages were invited to enjoy food, refreshments and participate in several activities, including painting lessons, mini makeovers and massages. A photo booth with Sporting KC players was also set up so participants could take home a souvenir and each ticket holder received a goodie bag courtesy of Hallmark Sinceramente. Wine tasting was sponsored by Barefoot Wine and chocolate donated by Andres Chocolate was provided for all the women who attended. A post game autograph session with Sporting KC’s Aurelien Collin capped off the evening.
Proceeds from the night’s silent auction, which included a pair of hand painted Sporting KC pumps autographed by the team, and a percentage of ticket sales will be donated to The Victory Project – the charitable arm of Sporting Club which has a mission to help children in Kansas City who are battling cancer.
To see pictures from Wednesday’s event, view the slideshow below, and to stay up to date on The Victory Project, be sure to follow us on Twitter.