Norwich soccer players help kick off State-wide leukemia program

On Sunday, April 30, members of the Norwich University Mens and Womens soccer teams joined the Northfield Dynamos Youth Soccer program players and coaches on Howard Field to kick off an innovative fundraising effort to help in the fight against leukemia.

"Soccer Kicks for Cancer," a collaborative program created by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, is a partnership among the society, U.S. Youth Soccer and the U.S. National Soccer Team's Player's Association. It combines soccer skills training with fundraising to help find a cure for leukemia, which causes more deaths among children and young people under the age of 20 than any other form of cancer.

Kicks for Cancer provides coaches and youth soccer players with tools they need to improve their game, including an exclusive training DVD featuring instruction from members of the U.S. National Soccer Team and prominent pro and college coaches. Each participating player gets pledges from family, friends and neighbors for every "touch" of a soccer ball (dribble, pass or juggle), with the goal being to complete 2,000 touches over a 10-day period.

During the April 30 event, the youth players performed soccer skills drills or "touches" as part of the fundraising element of Kicks For Cancer. The program hopes to challenge youth soccer clubs throughout the state to join Kicks for Cancer and assist in raising money for medical research and patient services.

Participants can also earn incentives such as training balls, warm-up suits and a soccer ball signed by a U.S. National Team star or legend. The top fundraising team in the state will earn a training clinic conducted by a member of the U.S. national team. In addition, each fundraising club or town will receive 10% of its fundraising total for scholarships. That money will come from the Todd Smith Leukemia Scholarship Fund, which honors the late Todd Smith, a former player and pro soccer executive who helped develop Soccer for Kicks for Cancer prior to his death from leukemia in 2003.

Northfield resident Vicki Corson is a coach for the Dynamos soccer club. Last year Corson's 13-year old daughter Morgan was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. "Soccer has ruled our lives since Morgan was a third-grader, so when she was diagnosed with leukemia, it strengthened my resolve to push a little harder to get our club to launch this program in Vermont," said Corson. "Youth soccer is an integral part of life for hundreds of families in this state, so Soccer Kicks is an ideal way for the youth soccer community to fight a disease with a devastating impact on youngsters and their families."

For more information about the soccer Kicks for Cancer program, call 888-HELP-LLS or visit www.soccerkicksforcancer.org