KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Growing up in the Kansas City area, Matt Besler saw MLS struggle for attention in the local market.
Now, with his club’s fan base ever-growing and energized by rebranding, a new home and onfield success, Sporting Kansas City’s All-Star center back has a ready-made target audience for his charitable work with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“Being from Kansas City, I love helping out and making a difference,” Besler told MLSsoccer.com. “I think in the past two years, our fan base has grown so much. We’ve always had passionate fans, but now we have that big, passionate fan base. I think the guys realize that we have a special group of fans and we want to give back.”
Besler’s supporter-interactive efforts for the group, which works to fight blood-borne cancers, have earned him the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month award for April.
Besides a two-month series of Twitter auctions, which conclude in early May, Besler is also lending his name to a “Besler Gives Back” package for Sporting’s May 5 game against the Montreal Impact. A portion of all proceeds from sales of that package will go to the LLS — and in keeping with Besler’s connection to the fans, there are some extras planned for that night as well.
“Going to have a bunch of different fun auctions within the Cauldron [Sporting’s supporters’ section] — a couple of jerseys, a couple of balls,” Besler said.
And at some point, Besler will put more than his gear on the block: “There’s going to be a lunch date with me,” he said.
Besler had little experience with leukemia and lymphoma when he was approached. That has changed, he said.
“I personally did not have anybody in my family directly affected by it,” he said. “A lot of people do, and that’s why they get involved. But as I have gotten involved, I’ve met people and I’ve learned a lot more about these diseases. I’m excited to be involved now.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.