by Roxanne Hooper
Three weeks ago, it wasn’t clear if the fourth annual Langley United Kicking Cancer fundraiser was even going to happen.
Everyone was tired after a long, rough season, explained Mike Thomson, one of the organizers. But the Langley United Soccer Association put out a call to its members, “saying there’s a possibility this won’t happen if you don’t help out.”
The much to his shock and astonishment, some 80 people signed up to be part of the 24-hour relay and the club recorded $8,000 in pledges within the next 48 hours.
“I was just blown away,” Thomson said, proud of how so many stepped up.
Turns out, this year’s charity event attracted more than 380 players who ended up raising more than $18,500 for BC Cancer Foundation.
“It’s really nice to see these people step up and get engaged,” said Thomson, who noted that in the first three years the event raised $47,000 for the cause.
Among those in attendance this weekend was nine-year-old Taylor. She was especially grateful the event went ahead, Thomson said, noting she helped raise more than $850 in memory of his Nana, who she lost this year.
“There were so many touching stories about how cancer had affected our LUSA family and this was a great way to celebrate those we’ve lost and those who continue to fight the disease,” he added.
Attendance at the event, which was held at Willoughby Community Park, actually ended up being more than 100 above last year’s, with most pre-registering but a few dozen just dropping in and joining in.
“All these people came to donate, to watch, and even to kick the ball around” many doing so in hour of a loved-one touched by the disease, Thomson said.
The event attracted people ranging in age from three to 60, including LUSA players, friends, parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.
“It was truly a family event,” he said, thanking the volunteers who pulled it all together.
If Thomson had to select just one highlight from the entire relay, he said it would have to be watching University of the Fraser Valley and White Caps residency player John Kaspar (a young Langley man who had a tumour removed from his left thigh back in 2014) getting together with four-year-old brain cancer survivor Owen Dumansky to kick the ball around on the field.
Looking around the field early in the day, Thomson said: “This is truly fantastic… My hope is we managed to do two things.
“One, bring a little light to some of our members struggling with loss, and two, raise some money to help find a cure. If we managed any of that, then this event was a win in my books.”
The money raised will go to the cancer foundation, specifically earmarked for paediatric cancer, Thomson said. Donations are still being accepted at online.