For Real Salt Lake goalkeeper D.J. Countess, Colby Christensen has become not only an inspiration, but a friend. The friendship of one little girl has bloomed into a full blown effort to help kids in need.
Inspired by the story of the Utah girl who was trying to raise money to offset treatment costs for her rare form of cerebral palsy, Countess has launched The D.J. Countess Dream Keeper Foundation.
At the inaugural Dream Keeper Foundation dinner this week, Countess talked about how young Colby opened the RSL 'keeper's eyes to the difficulties faced by all the children afflicted with the disease.
"I first started this thinking to help Colby," Countess said. "But after helping her some, I realized how many children there are out there that could use help."
The dinner took a giant step toward making the goal of helping others possible, raising more than $15,000 for the cause.
But it doesn't stop there. Countess expects the first shipment of "Dream Keeper" wrist bands to arrive anyday and the foundation has water bottles and other items on tap to help raise money. In August, Thanksgiving Point golf course will host the First Annual Dream Keeper Golf Tournament.
"My parents always taught me that I needed to be thankful and show appreciation for the things I was blessed with," he said. "I got here to Salt Lake, and I just love it here. Once I was here, I figured there's not a better place anywhere to start a foundation."
While Countess is the face of the foundation, he admits that a 4-year-old girl went a long way in making this all happen.
"It's not easy," he said. "It has been a lot of work, a lot more than I expected, but it is so worth it. All the work I put in, and all the time it takes, it all pays off with just one smile from Colby."
David Hale is a contributor to MLSnet.com. this story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.