Kicking cancer to the curb

Northeast residents and organizations are raising funds and awareness for cancer research all month long.

Reaching their goal: Each weekend throughout the month of October, the colors of the Fox Chase Soccer Club field will change to represent a different kind of cancer. All proceeds will go toward research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, with each week’s funds going toward a different department. LOGAN KRUM / TIMES PHOTOS

As teammates of the Fox Chase Soccer Club chase the ball down the field, they pass over a large pink ribbon painted onto the grass. The field’s perimeter, usually orange, is also a bright pink.

Each weekend for the month of October, the colors of the field will change to represent a different kind of cancer. After three years of running a highly successful breast cancer awareness week, the soccer club decided to expand the week to an entire month, raising awareness for four different types of cancer.

All proceeds will go toward research at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, with each week’s funds going toward a different department.

Cancer has impacted the lives of many people in the club, including its president, William Costello.

“I personally have lost my father to lung cancer,” he said. “There are many members of the club who lost somebody.”

The same is true for Karen Owens, who has four children who participate in the club. Owens lost her mother to lung cancer in 2011. Her brother, Jack Matthews, is currently biking across the country on a Ride Hard, Breathe Easy campaign to raise awareness for the disease.

“It’s a beautiful thing we have here,” Owens said.

On the weekend of Sept. 30, the club kicked things off by raising money for breast cancer once more. This is the fourth year the club has raised money for the fight against the disease. In the previous three years, the club raised nearly $15,000 for the cancer center.

This year, the club raised close to $1,000 over the course of just one weekend.

On the weekend of Oct. 14, it will raise awareness and funds for lung cancer. Proceeds for this week will also go toward Matthews for Ride Hard, Breathe Easy. Kidney and childhood cancer will be the theme for the following two weeks, respectively.

Kristin Weiler wears many different hats in the club. She’s been a player since she was 4, and today serves as an event coordinator co-chair. She said the club’s fundraising has grown each year.

“We wanted to highlight other cancers [than just breast cancer], and make it more personal to everybody in the club,” Weiler said. “Since we’re so close in physical location to the Fox Chase Cancer Center, we want to bring more awareness and showcase how much they actually do.”

The club typically plays in the soccer fields located off Rhawn Street behind Fox Chase Elementary School, less than a mile away from the cancer center.

The idea is a community effort, but many credited Jim Touey for spearheading the effort.

“It shows our community spirit,” Touey said. “We want to involve as many people as possible and show the community coming together.”

To raise money, teams have tables set up outside of each game selling goods such as customized T-shirts advertising the event. For the first time this year, they are raffling off baskets. In addition, players have been walking around with blue buckets during each game taking donations from spectators.

Games are played every weekend, 8 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. Anyone aged 4 and up can join a team of the club, and being a Fox Chase resident is not required.

Weiler said involving every team helps even young kids get involved in the fight against cancer.

“The event brings awareness to the kids, some of whom may be touched by these cancers as well with family members and friends,” Weiler said. “It hits home for everyone. To have the kids involved and donating their time gives them deeper awareness of how they can get involved in the fight.” ••

To learn more about the Fox Chase Soccer Club, visit foxchase.soccer.