The Chicago Fire and the FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the Fire's charitable arm - have announced the formation of the Chicago Fire Players Alumni Association(CFPAA), a distinguished group of former Fire players who have contributed to the rich history of the Chicago Fire. The Alumni's first homecoming event will take place on Saturday, June 5 during the Chicago Fire's match versus DC United at Soldier Field.
"This is a great way to maintain connections between the organization and the players who have contributed so much to the Fire's success over the years," said Peter Wilt, Chicago Fire General Manager and FWFK President. "The first Fire Alumni event, the homecoming weekend, is appropriate for achieving these goals."
Acting as a subsidiary of the FireWorks For Kids Foundation, the mission of the CFPAA will be to provide soccer opportunities to economically disadvantaged Chicago area youth through scholarships into soccer camps, clinics, and academies while maintaining and enhancing lasting bonds of communication with the Chicago Fire organization for all former players. A representative volunteer board of the CFPAA will meet bi-annually (Spring and Fall) to review scholarship applications and award scholarships. Funding for scholarships will be raised through events, donations, or member dues.
"The CFPAA was formed to enhance the traditions and the reputation of the Chicago Fire both on and off the field," said Donald Ortale, CEO of FireWorks for Kids Foundation and Community Relations Director for the Chicago Fire. "We are very proud of the relationships we've developed over the years with our former players, many of whom continue to make a positive impact in our community and within our organization. As members of the CFPAA, these individuals will have the opportunity to continue to reach out and give back to the Chicagoland soccer community."
The CFPAA will work with the FireWorks For Kids Foundation to develop fund raising opportunities throughout the year. These activities will raise funds specifically for scholarship awards from the CFPAA.
"It is very important to have this kind of organization because it allows everyone who has been on the field for the Chicago Fire to stay in touch with the other players and coaches that played a part of this outstanding team's history," said former Fire forward and current FireWorks for Kids Board Member Frank Klopas. "This is a great way to get everyone together every once in a while not only to reminisce about old times, but to also see the current players paving the way for the future of the club."
The Fire Alumni will be invited to attend the Fire training session on Friday, June 4 in Lake Forest followed by a kick around for the former players on the Halas Hall training field they once called home. The alumni will be on hand Saturday, June 5 to watch former Fire players Peter Nowak and Tommy Soehn make their return to Soldier Field as D.C. United coaches. At the game, the Fire will also be inducting the newest member of the Ring of Fire. Inductees are selected by the Ring of Fire's membership, currently comprised solely of last year's inaugural inductee, Peter Nowak. Selections are made based on the individual's contributions to the Chicago Fire displaying the characteristics of leadership, integrity and dedication.