September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, and the league is launching its special designed pre-match top for the occasion. The shirt, bearing the color gold to represent the international symbol for childhood cancer, was designed for the league-wide Kick Childhood Cancer campaign that aims to raise awareness for pediatric cancer.
But there’s an added layer of meaning for Atlanta United. September also marks Unite & Conquer Cancer Month, the club campaign with the mission to give a voice to children and young adults who are fighting or have survived their battle with cancer. Atlanta United will be hosting several events throughout the month, including hospital visits and creating once-in-a-lifetime experiences for pediatric cancer patients.
To unveil this year’s tops, Atlanta United asked a local family that’s been impacted by childhood cancer to be the models. The Klemme family holds a special place in the hearts of Atlanta United. Their youngest son, Owen, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma and went through a long battle with cancer. Owen passed away last year with his family at his side.
Owen’s parents, Adrian and Kate, along with his older siblings, London and Henry, are among the first to wear the pre-match tops for MLS and the first to wear them for Atlanta United. The Klemmes visited the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground to tell Owen’s story and get their pictures taken in the shirts. The family is featured in all the photos and marketing materials promoting the top for Atlanta United.
“This is to bring awareness to the real issue, which is pediatric cancer – kids that really struggle with the disease and the families that go along with it,” Owen’s father, Adrian, said. “So we’ve been grateful we’ve been able to do this as a family because a cancer struggle is a family endeavor.”
Owen was very special to Atlanta United and was a beloved member of the Conquer Kids. He made frequent visits to the Training Ground and served as the Honorary Captain for the match between Atlanta United and Minnesota United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on May 29, 2019. On his journey, his family was with him every step of the way, so debuting the tops is a way to honor what children and their families endure when facing pediatric cancer.
“We came out to get to showcase the clothing, and it's real families that have been impacted by it who get to do that. And that really is a privilege to be able to be a part of it,” Owen’s mom, Kate, said.
Atlanta United supporters will get to see the tops on their team before the Unite & Conquer Cancer match on September 10. The players will wear the top before kickoff against Toronto FC and before every match in the month, home or away. For supporters, the tops are available to purchase online. MLS will donate all the royalties of the sales to the Children's Oncology Group.
Stay tuned to ATLUTD.com all throughout September as we cover Unite & Conquer Cancer Month, including feature pieces on the Klemme family and this year’s scarf and number designers.