WP – Third annual Kicks Against Cancer raises funds for Camp Okizu

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by Priyanka Sharma & Riya Godbole

On February 1, all the soccer teams will host the third annual Kicks Against Cancer event, a fundraiser to send children with cancer to Camp Okizu.

The money raised through the event allows northern California families affected by childhood cancer to attend the programs free of charge.

All of the funds raised during the week go towards Camp Okizu. The goal of the soccer teams is to surpass $8,000, the amount they raised last year, which sent almost eight families to the camp.

“Our goal is really to make this a community event […] and also [to] hopefully increase the amount of people who come to our soccer games as well,” co-captain Nicole Dalal (12) said.

On Friday, January 13, the soccer teams hosted a pizza party dinner at the Upper School with a few families who attend Okizu camps.

“We got to meet the families, and they’re all really nice and really sweet. It was so cute [because] they brought piles and piles of friendship bracelets,” co-captain Adrienne Mendel (11) said.

Katie Mahon, Executive Assistant and Program Director at Okizu, said that “the team members have donated their time and their enthusiasm to this project,” making Kicks Against Cancer special to her.

“We are so excited to have the Harker soccer teams supporting Okizu through Kicks Against Cancer,” Mahon said. “It was really great to see the students eating and playing with the kids, making friendship bracelets. I love that this event combines fundraising with a more personal interaction between the team members and our families.”
The teams started selling tickets the week of January 16 for $10. Along with the ticket, buyers received a purple shirt that has the 2012 Kicks Against Cancer logo on the front. In addition to the shirts, the teams sold wristbands and customized hair ties for three dollars each.

According to girls’ Varsity head coach and English teacher Jason Berry, the girls’ team has put in a sincere and “completely selfless” effort toward making the event come together.

“I’m only furthering the cause that Troy Thiele started, so I am certainly proud to carry on the tradition, and these girls have some of the biggest hearts on campus that I have seen,” Berry said.

The teams encourage students and faculty to wear purple on February 1 to support the cause.

The Varsity soccer teams have come up with many ways to encourage supporting patients with cancer. Awareness ribbons that commemorate those who are in various stages of cancer can also be purchased for $1. The ribbons will be displayed at the games.

Another way the teams are raising money is through selling raffle tickets for one dollar each for prizes including gift cards, San Jose Earthquake tickets, and an autographed photo of Aubrey Huff. In addition, the Barnes & Noble at 1600 Saratoga Avenue will honor all purchases and donate a portion of items sold either in their store or online Friday, January 27 to Okizu. Students and shoppers must mention the specified coupon code.

During halftime, many teachers and coaches have volunteered to participate in “Butts Up,” a playful game in which the faculty stands in the goal with their backs to the shooters and people take shots on them. Each shot can be purchased for two dollars each.

Players from both the boys and girls teams are enthusiastic about the upcoming annual event, especially the first-time team members.

“I’m definitely excited. You get to help kids who’ve been diagnosed with cancer, and they’re really happy about getting to go to a camp where they can have a lot of fun and not have to worry about the normal daily worries of a kid who has been diagnosed with cancer,” Mohannad Khadr (9) said.

Camp Okizu’s goal is to support families with childhood cancer patients. The organization has been holding camps and programs for over 30 years. Camps vary from Oncology Camp for children with cancer to Sibling Camp and Family Camp to help support the siblings and families of afflicted children.

On February 1, the girls’ team will play against Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA) at 3:30 p.m., and the boys’ team will play against Eastside College Prep (ECP) at 5:30 p.m.