I’ve often said I have no regrets in my soccer career. I played competitively for 31 years, 15 of those as a pro in my adopted hometown of Seattle, all with my family by my side and a city who embraced my no nonsense approach to life and soccer. As I’ve stepped away from the unique lifestyle I was afforded, it has dawned on me that I may have missed some opportunities to give back in a greater way with the platform I was blessed with. As often is the case, it’s much easier to look back in hindsight and wish you had done more. Unfortunately, sometimes clarity comes after tragedy strikes.
Very early in our move to Seattle, my wife Alana and I talked about being on our own and longing to find friends we could grow up and grow old with as we watched our kids do the same together. Miraculously we weren’t far from meeting that family, the Berg Ohana. We met Kristie and Joe Berg and they embraced us as brothers and sisters would, while blessing us with the opportunity to become an Uncle and Aunty to their daughters, Alana and Avery, the same way my wife and I grew up on Maui with our extended families. They have equally embraced and loved our three children. This is quite a gift.
Late in 2016, after a bout of sickness and sudden double-vision, 11-year-old Avery was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with a very rare, very aggressive tumor in the center of her brain. Being under the care of some of the best doctors in the world at Seattle Children’s Hospital, the prognosis was still grim. The Berg family, ever faithful, decided to pour all their time and resources into not only the care of their daughter, but in bringing awareness to the incredible lack of funding and resources given to pediatric brain tumor research. The community rallied around the Berg family and with the help of The Run of Hope, raised over $150,000 in a few short weeks in an attempt to do so. All of that money was given directly to Seattle Children’s Hospital for research and clinical trials for pediatric brain tumors.
However, that is not enough. Pediatric Cancer currently receives only 4% of the national budget spent on cancer research and development. On March 1, I will lace up my boots one last time with several of my friends in an attempt to further these efforts. Seattle has always shown me and my family such love. I urge you to do something amazing and continue to support families that face these devastating realities. It could be any of us. As Avery would say, “You are the difference makers.” A portion of proceeds from ticket sales as well as all the in-match auction proceeds will go to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Fund run by Seattle Children’s Hospital.
You can purchase your tickets here. Thank you for helping me bring awareness to pediatric brain tumors and #AwesomeAvery.
I hope to see you all there.
P.S. To continue to follow Avery’s fight against cancer please check out: Never Giving Up Heart.