KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sporting Kansas City aren't content to simply go about their business as a professional soccer team that just so happens to reside in the Midwest city.
Instead, they embrace their home as a community, and continue to make strides toward touching the lives of many affected by childhood sickness.
Launched in April 2013, The Victory Project has served as the crown jewel of their community efforts in a variety of ways — whether through raising funds, providing encouragement on a daily basis during battles with childhood cancer or simply recognizing these courageous children before each and every home game at Sporting Park.
"We want to give to the community that has shown us such enthusiastic support. We chose to focus on cancer because so many of our fans and associates have been impacted by it." Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said upon the launch of the initiative.
Fast forward seven months to these days leading up to MLS Cup 2013 — Sporting KC and its city are serving as hosts for Saturday's final against Real Salt Lake (4 pm ET, ESPN2/UniMas/TSN2/RDS — and they've done just that.
On Thursday, in conjunction with Sporting Club and the Victory Project, MLS WORKS unveiled brand new renovations to one of two Ronald McDonald House Kansas City facilities.
The Ronald McDonald House serves as a "home away from home" for thousands of families each year who must travel to the Kansas City area to receive medical treatment for a sick or injured child. As many as 60 families each night put to good use this space while their children undergo vital medical care.
"It's such a great match with our foundation, The Victory Project," David Ficklin, Sporting Club Vice President of Development, said at the event on Thursday. "We do everything we can to help kids and families who are suffering from tremendous obstacles. And that's exactly what the Ronald McDonald House is here to do."
The same mentality, Ficklin says, has served Sporting well not only when serving in the community, but also in their long-range aspirations in the soccer world.
"We're dreamers. When we have an obstacle in front of us, we don't just figure out how to resolve it. We say, 'What's the best we can, and how can we resolve it so that the future is ever greater?'
"And that leads to when we were designing the stadium. We designed it thinking, 'We're going to do it so it's a fantastic venue for the All-Star Game. We're going to give our guys the greatest advantage that we can to win as many games and create a venue that would be an ideal backdrop for an MLS Cup.'"
A trickle down effect has also taken place within the organization with the players themselves jumping in headfirst on their own to get involved as well. Thursday's ceremony was no different with the likes of team captain Jimmy Nielsen and another half-dozen first-team regulars in attendance.
Following the unveiling of the house's new basement area which will serve as a safe haven escape from harsher realities for thousands of families each year, the players stuck around to play foosball and other games with a handful of children — as well as MLS Commissioner Don Garber.
"It tells everything about the guys behind this team," Nielsen said on Thursday. "They're amazing guys. They not only want to be the team, but they want the whole city to be around the team, so that we all feel as one big team.
"This is a place where everybody wants to hang out. I'm very, very impressed, and I'm very proud of our ownership that they have done such a great job."