As part of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, MLS WORKS — Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform — announced on Tuesday that it is teaming up with league partner Continental Tire to raise awareness and funds in the battle against childhood cancer.
Now in its seventh year, Kick Childhood Cancer works to strengthen research efforts to find cures for all types of childhood cancer and provide support to one of the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we enter the 7th year of the campaign, Major League Soccer and our clubs remain committed to finding cures for all types of childhood cancers and now more than ever, providing comfort and support to one of the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” MLS president and Chief Administrative Officer JoAnn Neale said in a statement. “With a shared history for delivering fun and innovative experiences, we are proud to partner with Continental Tire to positively impact patients and families during their fight against Childhood cancer.”
During the month-long campaign, MLS and Continental Tire will partner with MLS clubs, players and club legends to surprise and delight pediatric cancer patients and health care providers with unique experiences and acts of kindness throughout the month of September. Continental Tire will donate sets of tires to patient families and hospital workers in each of the 26 MLS Club markets to help offset the financial burden associated with driving to and from treatments and appointments. Additionally, Continental Tire will provide "Kick Childhood Cancer Care Kits," featuring games, activities, puzzles and more, to patients in local markets.
MLS supporters also have a role to play with fans encouraged to provide messages of hope to help inspire and motivate local pediatric cancer patients as they continue their journey in the fight against cancer. Fans may submit their message on Twitter using the hashtag #KickChildhoodCancer, and some of those messages will be used to produce club customized blankets and scarves to distribute to pediatric cancer patients this holiday season.
In honor of MLS' 25th season, Continental Tire will donate $25 for every use of the hashtag #KickChildhoodCancer to fund pediatric cancer research, up to $50,000. Fans may also donate directly to Children’s Oncology Group. A holiday auction consisting of game-used autographed jerseys and soccer balls from September 2020 matches and other items donated by Continental Tire will provide an additional fundraising opportunity later in the season.
The campaign will also be present on the field. A commemorative gold ribbon on the adidas 2020 MLS Nativo XXV Official Match Ball will be used during all matches, as well as gold corner flags and goal nets. Kick Childhood Cancer gold captain’s armbands and gold ribbon jersey patches will be worn by the players. Technical staff will don Kick Childhood Cancer pins and PRO referees will sport gold wristbands.
Here's how each of the league's 26 clubs are getting involved:
- Atlanta United: Atlanta United continues its annual Unite & Conquer Cancer month by recognizing and creating special memories with pediatric cancer patients, survivors, families and staff from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. The club will conduct hospital visits utilizing robot technology to provide a safe way for Conquer Kids to connect with Atlanta United players. Nominated by their peers, hospital staff members will be celebrated for their acts of excellence through gifts of service provided by the club. For its Unite & Conquer Cancer match, Atlanta United will incorporate virtual in-match elements such as special Golden Spike hitter, a virtual human ribbon, hospital watch parties and a special Scarf of the Month designed by pediatric cancer patient, Dani Cuevas.
- Chicago Fire FC: Chicago Fire FC has teamed up with Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Ronald McDonald House Charities during the month of September to bring awareness to Kick Childhood Cancer. Players from the Chicago Fire first team will virtually surprise children and families with co-branded MLS and Continental Tire Care Kits and tires.
- Colorado Rapids: The Colorado Rapids will celebrate their annual Kick Childhood Cancer Night on Saturday, Sept. 12 via their Second Screen Experience. The virtual experience will feature a special ‘Kid Captain’ who will be featured in the Starting XI lineups with the team. The Rapids will also donate meals to the Oncology Department at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and Rapids first team players will make virtual visits with RMHC patients. Additionally, Rapids mascot RapidMan will be in attendance at the ‘Over the Edge’ fundraising event benefiting Cancer League of Colorado on Thursday, Sept. 10, and at the annual CureSearch Walk on Saturday, Sept. 26, at DICK’S Sporting Goods Park, which raises funds for children’s cancer research.
- Columbus Crew SC: During September Crew SC will support NC4K’s – a Columbus, Ohio nonprofit organization that provides support for kids fighting cancer - #GoGold4 campaign to show solidarity for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Additionally, Crew SC will integrate healthcare workers and pediatric patients and survivors into the in-match experience, while Crew leadership and the Club’s TV broadcast team will wear Kick Childhood Cancer scarves and lapel pins. Additionally, ahead of one of its matches in September, the Club will also light up MAPFRE Stadium gold in the week leading up to it.
- D.C. United: In conjunction with Children’s National Hospital and Chance for Life, D.C. United will engage with patients digitally to bring awareness to Kick Childhood Cancer Month. D.C. United will support a Chance for Life month-long auction with one-of-a-kind auction items to fundraise for pediatric cancer research right here in the DMV. D.C. United is also planning to engage Children's National patients remotely by appearing on the Seacrest Studios shows for patients in the hospital and will highlight healthcare heroes in the pediatric oncology field with surprise-and-delights.
- FC Cincinnati: FC Cincinnati will partner with Cancer Free Kids, Dragonfly Foundation, The Cure Starts Now and Ronald McDonald House for virtual patient visits and FCC Kids Club gift boxes. Various FC Cincinnati players will interact with patients through a video-conference call.
- FC Dallas: FC Dallas Players will participate in virtual hospital visits at local children’s hospitals. The coaches and players will also check in with 11-year-old Brynn Moore whom the club signed to a two-day contract in 2019. She has been battling Ewing’s Sarcoma and finished chemotherapy earlier this season. FC Dallas defender, Ryan Hollingshead, will also execute a virtual version of Ryan’s NEGU Crew in partnership with the Jessie Rees Foundation.
- Houston Dynamo: Houston Dynamo will announce that between eight to 11 pediatric patients from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center will be named honorary Dynamo members. Each child will receive a personalized jersey as well as a call from one of the Houston Dynamo players welcoming them to the team. Additionally, Dynamo team members will join pediatric patients for a virtual soccer-themed art lesson, presented by MD Anderson’s Arts in Medicine program. Dynamo players also will co-host a virtual soccer-themed Bingo for pediatric patients and their siblings.
- LAFC: This year, LAFC will be donating 50 Black & Gold jersey gowns to local Kaiser Permanente pediatric oncology patients. Throughout the month, first team players will also be attending virtual appearances with select patients. In addition, LAFC has once again partnered with the Austen Everett Foundation to select a LAFC virtual hero for one of the Club’s upcoming matches.
- LA Galaxy: LA Galaxy has teamed up with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles during the month of September to bring awareness to Kick Childhood Cancer. Players from the LA Galaxy first team will virtually surprise children and families with a pre-recorded and live video calls to youth patients. In addition, patients will receive MLS Care Kits, Continental Tire certificates and LA Galaxy giveaways.
- Inter Miami CF: Inter Miami CF has partnered with Baptist Health’s Miami Cancer Institute Pediatric Cancer Unit to deliver co-branded MLS WORKS and Continental Tire Care Kits and tires to patients and families in need. Inter Miami CF has also secured fan cutouts to highlight kids and families undergoing treatment for cancer at Baptist as well as medical workers helping to save lives including doctors, nurses and social workers. The cutouts will be placed in the stands on September 6 for the match against Nashville SC. In advance of the match, Inter Miami will train in tops with the logo “For Sebastian” printed on them. These tops support Sebastian Ortiz, who lost his battle with Sarcoma in December 2016. After training, the tops will be signed by the players and sold online with all proceeds going to the IMCF Foundation and a donation from there to SebastianStrong.
- Minnesota United: Minnesota United players will be making virtual hospital visits to Children’s Cancer Research Fund, Children’s Minnesota and Mhealth-Masonic Children’s Hospital. Minnesota United will also name an honorary captain and provide Care Kits to the Austen Everett Foundation.
- Montreal Impact: Montreal Impact players will make virtual hospital visits to Montreal Children’s Hospital, CHU Ste-Justine and Canada Shriners Hospitals for Children during the month of September.
- Nashville SC: In support of Kick Childhood Cancer month, Nashville SC will collaborate with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt (MCJCHV) in the following initiatives: Nashville SC midfielder Taylor Washington will be interviewed by child cancer patients of MCJCHV. This feature will be shown during the club’s match vs. Atlanta United FC on Sept. 12th; Nashville SC club representatives will record video “messages of hope” in support of child cancer patients at MCJCHV; a KCC Child Ambassador will be selected to be the Nashville SC Hero of the Match and will be featured through the club’s digital and social channels as well as during the match’s broadcast and families of cancer patients at MCJCHV will also be featured as special Virtual Fans in the club’s Section 615 during the Sept. 12th game broadcast; Finally, Nashville SC will promote a text-to-give campaign to raise funds in support of MCJCHV.
- New England Revolution: New England Revolution will host a Virtual Pajama Party with Massachusetts General Hospital and Binkeez for Comfort with special appearances from Revs players throughout the night. In addition, the Revolution will host a Virtual Bingo Night in conjunction with Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Binkeez for Comfort, the Izzy Foundation, and the Confetti Foundation.
- NYCFC: New York City FC committed to delivering 100 Care Kits to Hope and Heroes which funds life-saving research and care for children’s cancer and blood disorders.
- New York Red Bulls: The New York Red Bulls will partner with Continental Tires to deliver 100 Care Kits to caregivers and families who are receiving treatment at area hospitals, and will also feature doctors and nurses from pediatric care units in the club’s Homegrown Heroes series.
- Orlando City SC: Orlando City SC players will be recording personalized messages to pediatric patients who are continuing their fight against cancer at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children. Patients will also connect with the team by sending messages wishing the players luck on the field this season. In addition, the Club is actively working on ways to virtually include patients from Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital into the game day production for the Sept. 12 match against Inter Miami.
- Philadelphia Union: The Union will continue their tradition of pairing players with a child from the Kisses for Kyle Foundation, an organization that offers services to families fighting childhood cancer in the Philadelphia-area. Each Philadelphia Union player will get a Kisses for Kyle buddy which they will honor on gameday as well as have some virtual fun with a video call. On gameday players will wear a warm-up top that says “I Play for ____” with their buddies name including, while their buddy will receive a care package from their player with everything to get them gameday ready. The buddies will also get a front row seat in the stands with cardboard cutouts at the game on September 12 against New England Revolution.
- Portland Timbers: The Portland Timbers are working with A Doll Like Me to provide girls battling Childhood Cancer at Children’s Cancer Association with a doll that looks like them.
- Real Salt Lake: Real Salt Lake mascot, Leo will surprise kids at Primary Children's Hospital by driving by and waving to the kids from a distance.
- San Jose Earthquakes: This year the Earthquakes will continue their partnership with the Austen Everett Foundation. The Austen Everett Foundation works to empower kids battling cancer through the strength and support of professional and collegiate athletic teams. The Quakes will be recognizing an Honorary Captain virtually for their home matches on Sept. 5 and Sept. 13. Additionally, the Quakes will team up with the American Cancer Society and their Courageous Kids program for other promotional, awareness-elevating and fundraising initiatives.
- Seattle Sounders: Sounders FC will look to empower and inspire kids battling cancer and their families during the month of September. Cancer does not discriminate; Seattle continues to fight to Kick Childhood Cancer because when we do, it is for every child in our community. The club is partnering with Bloodworks Northwest for three days of blood drives at CenturyLink Field, recognizing that transfusions play a vital role in many cancer treatments and that blood supply in the region continues to be a challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Donors are encouraged to wear Sounders FC gear and to schedule an appointment ahead of time. Seattle is also working with former Sounder Lamar Neagle and wife, Natalie, who run a children’s clothing company called Grey & Mae Co. The Neagles have been creating comfortable and fashionable facemasks this summer, and Sounders FC will work with the family to donate masks to youth battling cancer and their families via the Austen Everett Foundation. Throughout the month, Seattle players will also record custom video messages of encouragement for kids battling cancer or in remission to empower and inspire them. For every home and away match in September – and for every home match during the entirety of the season – Sounders FC partners with the Austen Everett Foundation to identify a youth battling cancer or in remission who receives/received treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital who then serves as the Sounders FC Honorary Team Captain. In 2020, these honorary captain cancer warriors will be recognized virtually.
- Sporting Kansas City: Sporting Kansas City and The Victory Project, the club’s foundation focused on impacting the lives of children with cancer, will host numerous special initiatives during Kick Childhood Cancer month. The team will continue its longstanding tradition of honoring a child battling cancer at home matches with a VIP experience that begins by attending training the day before and includes an overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge before enjoying the game with family in the stadium's luxurious Victory Suite. Sporting will also host a two-day blood drive with Community Blood Center at Children’s Mercy Park on Sept. 3 and 4 as nearly 100 percent of cancer patients receive blood products. Participants will receive co-branded masks to further support public health and additional Kick Childhood Cancer retail items will be available at Sporting KC home matches in September, including exclusive scarves and beanies. For every beanie sold, a beanie will be donated to Children’s Mercy - where Sporting will also deliver care kits for families. Sporting KC players will conduct virtual visits with Children’s Mercy patients and conversely, patients may virtually visit Sporting KC home matches by utilizing Rex the Robot to navigate Children's Mercy Park. Finally, The Victory Project's Sporting Wishes program - which grants wishes for children who relapse or are diagnosed with a secondary cancer - will fulfill the wish of an 11-year-old in Kansas with Rhabdomyosarcoma by unveiling her own tiny home in her family's backyard.
- Toronto FC: In support of the 7th annual Kick Childhood Cancer (KCC) campaign, Toronto FC will hold a KCC awareness night on September 1 versus the Montreal Impact. On-field elements supporting KCC will include gold nets, corner flags and player jersey patches. Toronto FC will also work with local community partners to highlight the KCC campaign throughout the month of September, including the delivery of KCC branded ‘care kits’ to patients at SickKids hospital and fundraising for charitable partners who work to battle childhood cancer.
- Vancouver Whitecaps: For Kick Childhood Cancer month, Vancouver Whitecaps FC are working with their long-standing community partner BC Children’s Hospital. BC Children’s Hospital are leaders in pediatric services and British Columbia’s foremost teaching and research facility for child health. In addition to the care kits, Whitecaps FC are partnering with the hospital to coordinate gifting of club jerseys to oncology frontline workers and a virtual team visit to pediatric cancer patients. The Kid Captains of ‘Caps home matches in September will also feature young fans who have been affected by pediatric cancer.