Searching for a cure to cancer is nothing new.
Playing for it is.
A collection of 18 area girls — comprising three teams in 3v3 soccer — have been doing the latter for a year now.
The under-12 team is simply called “The Cure.” The under-10 team is known as The Cure, Gold and the under-9 squad is referred to as The Junior Cure.
“Most of these girls play for the PA Crew Academy and their parents and themselves have become friends that way,” said Mars resident Kelly Coffield, who has two daughters playing. “Often times, players from these organizations branch off and enter these 3 on 3 events.
“Not all of the girls involved on these teams are with PA Crew, so we began looking for another name.”
Many of the girls have loved ones who have been or are currently affected by cancer. Coffield’s father-in-law has Stage 4 lung cancer. North Allegheny’s Riley Miara has two aunts who are breast cancer survivors.
Her under-12 teammate, Izzy Boyd of Pine-Richland, lost an aunt to breast cancer. Another teammate, Gracie Dunway of Mars, is playing for her mother’s colleague’s daughter, Elizabeth, who is battling Rhabdomyo Sarcoma, a cancer of the tissues.
“We all talked about it and the girls decided they wanted to play for a cause,” Coffield said. “It’s united them.
“They solicit corporate donations and donations from family and friends on their own. They have formal letters they present explaining their cause, along with individual bios about themselves and the individuals they’re playing for.”
Breana Valentovish of the Seneca Valley School District says she’s playing for all the kids that have lost a loved one to cancer. Kennedy Christy of the South Butler School District is playing for all of the kids who have cancer.
“We know that we are blessed to be able to play this sport and many children who have cancer aren’t,” their form letter to family and friends states.
“These kids really get it,” Coffield said. “We let them choose the organization’s team colors. They chose gold because that color stands for childhood cancer and lavender because that stands for all cancers. Their explanations brought tears to our eyes.”
The teams are pretty good, too. All three squads have qualified for nationals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 18-20. The under-9 and under-12 teams plan on participating.
“The team qualified through placing at regionals in York in August,” said Shelly Valentovish, who has two daughters in the group. “The kids have been doing their own fund-raising. The thing has just steam-rolled.”
The Cure has raised $3,505 — $1,900 in corporate sponsorships, $1,605 in donations — for cancer research thus far.
Last year’s under-11 team placed second in the world championships at Disney World, knocking off the No. 1 nationally ranked team.
That team — Boyd, Christy, Ellie Coffield, Dunaway, Miara and Valentovish — has qualifed for the Elite International Division this year.
“The two other teams were formed through younger siblings and friends,” Coffield said.
“The Cure has become more than just a soccer team for these girls and their families. It has become a way for our girls to be invested in something bigger than themselves. To learn what it feels like to donate, be involved, and have an impact on something that’s important.”
All of the money raised above the players’ expenses will be donated to a cancer research non-profit organization, selected by the players at the end of the season.
Fundraising will continue through March.