Alpharetta’s Charlie Corbitt is a soccer guy. He got that way as a soccer parent. Lots of Georgia folks will remember that he was a pioneer in developing a system of soccer results and rankings for high schools in Georgia.
He is also an internet guy, and his Soccer Information Systems was his way to give back to the game.
Charlie is also a cancer survivor. During hospital visits for treatments, he saw the struggles families were having who had loved ones also undergoing chemo and other treatments. Many of those were children.
Charlie made friends, as Charlie often does, with many of the parents he met, offering comfort and a kind word of encouragment. But he wanted to do more, and in 2008 he started Soccer For A Cure, a foundation that would eventully raise funds to help families in a small, but important, way, to ease some of their financial burdens associated with childhood cancer.
Over the years numerous high schools and colleges have sponsored Soccer For A Cure games and tournaments. The most recent was at the Univesity of Alabama Birmingham, held for the sixth straight year by UAB men’s coach Mike Getman.
On Saturday, two players and coaches from each of the four teams, UAB, East Tennessee State, Charlotte and Memphis, visited Childrens of Alabama, the hospital where the UAB tournament proceeds will go this year.
There they spent a couple hours of their Saturday, an off-day for the tournament, with children being treated for a variety of childhood cancers.
They distributed tournament T-shirts and soccer balls, signed autographs and posed for pictures with the kids. They talked, kicked balls, laughed and smiled.
It was a happy time for the young patients, and an impactful experience for the players and their coaches.
Charlotte head coach Kevin Langan was there, along with his two players, Biko Bradnock-Brennan and Brandt Bronico.
“It was an eye-opening experience,” said Langan. “We had played an action-packed, emotionally-filled game the night before against UAB and visiting the children and their families put it all into perspective. The courage the children and their families display is a lesson to us all.
“Biko and Brandt left with great empathy for the children and a renewed sense of responsibility that they have as role models.”
Langan also pledged to hold a similar Soccer For A Cure event in Charlotte.
It was in the hematology-oncology unit that the players and coaches met Zachary Coffey. He’s two years old, too young and too small to kick the soccer ball he hugged very hard, but big enough to hold it tight. His smile was magic and said more than words.
Last year Children’s of Alabama had 13,596 inpatient discharges. That’s not the number of patients, because many were re-admits. They treat 90 percent of the children in Alabama who are diagnosed with cancer and blood disorders every year.
Average stay is six days. Zachary had been there more than four times that long.
“According to a mother of one of the kids, he (her son) hardly ever spoke to anyone other than her,” Corbitt said speaking about the visit and the children.
“He had so much fun kicking the soccer balls with the players. His mother said she had never seen him speak so much to strangers.
“The players eyes were opened to some of the issues several of the kids and families dealt with on a daily basis. Zack’s grandmother said that a family member stays with him every night and he has been at the hospital well over a month.
A Soccer For a Cure event at a Charlotte home game will be good news for Corbitt, but it wasn’t the cancer survivor from Alpharetta who pushed Lanngan to host a game. It was the kids like Zachary, and the smiles on faces that unfortunately have also known sadness and pain.
More than $1,300 was raised over the UAB tournament weekend that included two games on Friday and two on Sunday. The goal was to raise $500 more than the $1,500 raised a year ago.
Corbitt is optimistic that the UAB goal will yet be realized as contributions and pleges continue to come in.
Soccer For A Cure is a 501C3 non-profit, so contributions are tax deductable, but Corbitt has never sought out major donations. He’s asked for small contributions, and hopes to get those from a lot of contributors. Hopefully, thousands.
He often tells the story about Albert Lexie, a 71-year-old shoe shine man who raised over $200,000 for the University of Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital. He did it by giving all of his tips of $1, $2 and $5 over 30-plus years of shining shoes to the hospital.
“He has had a huge influence in my effort to engage thousands of families in the southeastern states to pledge to make an annual donation of $1, $2 up to $5 a year,” said Corbitt.
When a Soccer For A Cure event is held, the money is earmarked to help families with children who are battling cancer through a hospital in that state.
It is distributed to families who can use the help, often in the form of prepaid grocery or gasoline cards. It’s a grassroots effort, and every dollar makes an impact.
Your subscription has expired please
Subscribe to Southern Soccer Scene to view full article and get all the news in your mailbox!