Vote for Sounders FC and Christine O’Connell for the chance for her to win $25,000 for Seattle Children’s Hospital.
On St. Patrick’s Day 2017, longtime Seattle Sounders FC fan Christine O’Connell received news that changed her family’s lives forever: “Your child has cancer.” The O’Connells’ daughter, Jane, who was three at the time, was diagnosed with stage IV kidney cancer that had spread to her lungs, lymph nodes and spine.
As their family navigated childhood cancer treatment, Christine learned some sobering facts about lack of funding for research and the late effects that plague childhood cancer survivors. Then she learned there was a better way. Seattle Children’s is pioneering immunotherapy trials to use a child’s own immune system to fight cancer. That’s when Christine went to work.
Christine combined her passion for soccer and Sounders FC with her mission to kick childhood cancer by launching Scarves Fighting Cancer. “I knew if I could spread the word of the world-class research being done right here in our own backyard, our Sounders FC community would rally to help these kids.”
Her scarf creations, designed while she stayed in the hospital with Jane, include one emblazoned with “Brian Schmetzer’s Rave Green Army” (from the Emerald City Supporters’ chant). Another reads “Roldan is Hungry” — with pizza slices at each end — to poke gentle fun at midfielder Cristian Roldan’s seemingly insatiable appetite. She enlisted the support of Sounders players to help, most notably goalkeeper and artist, Stefan Frei, who designed a scarf himself for the effort. Sold only during September for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the first sale in 2017 raised $18,000 for Strong Against Cancer at Seattle Children’s. She sold scarves again the following year as well as T-shirts celebrating Sounders players and raised over $30,000. Christine is gearing up for this September’s sale with the goal of raising even more. “I have to be relentless as cancer,” she says.
Yet she is hopeful that the immunotherapy research at Seattle Children’s will spare other children the road Jane had to endure. “With the right support, I know we’ll see a cure for childhood cancer without chemotherapy and radiation in my lifetime,” Christine promises, “and I’m going to help them find it.”