To Angie Bounds, the story about to be told is not about her.
The charity coordinator for the Emerald City Supporters instead focuses on the work done by ECS, by Special Olympics Washington and by Sounders FC. The tale isn’t of her ability to help coordinate a trip to Costa Rica to play in the Central American Unified Tournament for a group of Special Olympics soccer players and their partners with the Sounders FC pre-Academy team, but of the strong ties formed by the two groups of players to earn a sixth place finish in the tournament.
And while she is at the root of the story, the true foundation comes from a very important person in her life who is mentally delayed with whom she developed a strong relationship – her older brother Tim.
It is for all of those reasons that when Bounds learned that she had been nominated as the Community MVP representing Seattle Sounders FC in a league-wide contest, she wasn’t excited about the recognition or honor that went to her or even at the prospect of a trip to the MLS All-Star Game in Kansas City.
It was the $10,000 that would go to Special Olympics Washington that drew a smile across her face.
“I was very excited because of the opportunity to potentially win that money for Special Olympics,” she said. “Once you get involved, you get sucked in. It’s addicting. They take you in like you’ve always been there. It’s so fun to go and see how excited they are when you show up.”
Bounds has been around soccer in Seattle since before 2009, but as the crowds in the stands grew so did the need for further organization within the Emerald City Supporters – who set the tone for the enveloping stadium atmosphere at CenturyLink Field with their tremendous numbers and booming choruses. She took the role as charity coordinator and directed the group’s community efforts. When they were contacted at one point by the Washington branch of Special Olympics to set up a partnership, it was a perfect match to Bounds, who grew up never thinking any differently of kids with intellectual disabilities.
Her older brother was an active participant in the Special Olympics, and the two had a strong family relationship, so she never had any trouble bridging that gap. Now active with Special Olympics and the Unified Program, she is helping others do the same thing.
“Growing up, we fought like brothers and sisters normally would. As I got older, I realized how important those relationships are to people with disabilities,” she said. “The Unified Program teaches that to children at a much younger age now.”
She has done much more than just coordinating a partnership between ECS and Special Olympics though.
Last year, she directed a fundraiser, gathering game- and practice-worn memorabilia from Sounders FC and auctioning it off to promote the Unified Program, generating over $7,900. She also joined Washington’s Special Olympics soccer team for a trip to Colorado to face the Colorado branch in a match in July of 2012.
On that trip, she helped organize a time for all of the Special Olympics athletes to meet Sounders FC players as they boarded the bus to go to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, where they topped the Rapids 2-1.
After seeing her interact with the athletes, Special Olympics invited her on another trip, this time to Costa Rica to help with the U.S. entry into the Central American Unified Tournament. The Special Olympics Washington team joined with the Sounders FC pre-Academy team for the tournament. Despite only having a handful of practice sessions before the trip, the U.S. team, made up almost entirely of Seattle-area athletes, finished sixth.
“It was awesome to watch the U-15s develop relationships with the kids with intellectual disabilities,” she said. “A lot of them had never interacted with kids with intellectual disabilities in that atmosphere. It was really cool to see.”
Her work with Special Olympics Washington and the Unified Soccer Program alone were enough to earn a strong nomination, but Bounds also coordinates other fundraising drives for ECS throughout the year, including one at their annual end-of-season party generating funds for Toys for Tots and Northwest Harvest. Her presence in the club’s largest supporters group has been a key factor in ECS’s partnership with the Special Olympics program.
Now, her fellow ECS members join her regularly on Special Olympics events throughout the year and the ECS and Sounders FC footprints are growing larger because of it.
“Anybody that I’ve gotten to come out to a Unified or Special Olympics event, they usually end up enjoying it so much that they want to come again,” Bounds said. “Some people may be hesitant because they haven’t been exposed to people with disabilities in their lifetime. But when they come out and see how fun it is, it’s addicting.”
To vote for Angie Bounds as the 2013 MLS WORKS Community MVP and help raise $10,000 for Special Olympics Washington, visit http://www.mlssoccer.com/mlsworks/community-mvp/vote.