For every parent, the tragic shooting at Newtown, Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School hits close to home.
Sounders FC goalkeeper Josh Ford is no parent, but the horrific events in that small New England town still strikes a chord. In addition to spending his college years at nearby University of Connecticut, Ford’s family works in school systems. His parents both work in Syracuse, New York, while his older brother – who also played soccer at UConn – teaches in Baltimore, Maryland.
“It hits home to have these things happen in schools,” Ford says. “It was pretty tough. Someone going through an elementary school like that is pretty heartbreaking.”
That is one reason Ford was quick to jump at the chance to participate in the “Soccer Night in Newtown” event next week. Organized by Houston Dynamo president Chris Canneti, himself a native of nearby Guilford, Conn., the event on January 7 will feature 30 players from around MLS and legends of US men’s and women’s soccer.
Ford will also be joined by Sounders FC 2012 Humanitarian of the Year David Estrada, who also jumped at the chance to help the Newtown community cope with such a difficult disaster.
“It’s really a blessing to have all of those players committed to doing what they can to help Newtown,” Ford said. “We’re just going to do what we can. We care. We’re athletes, but we’re human beings and things like that affect us a lot. We want to help anyone we can, through sports, through taking to kids and just being there to offer support.”
The players will meet with members of the Newtown community and play in small-sided games in an effort to help revitalize the children and families that were affected.
Ford, who went to UConn in Storrs, Conn., from 2006-2010, noted the tight-knit communities in Connecticut, in particular in a town like Newtown. Ford visited Newtown to spend time with a friend who lived there while at UConn.
“It’s a great opportunity to go back to a place where I spent so many years. It’s a great opportunity to give back in a way that I know how to, through soccer and working with kids,” he said. “Some may be small towns or bigger cities, but there is a good vibe of taking care of each other and being there for each other in the community in Connecticut. That will pull them out of this tragedy.”