Atlanta United today announced the start of its annual Unite and Conquer Cancer campaign while MLS WORKS – Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform – will team up with League partner Continental Tire to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer. Now in its seventh year, the Kick Childhood Cancer campaign strives to strengthen research efforts to find cures for all types of childhood cancer and provide support to one of the most vulnerable populations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Atlanta United continues its yearly Unite & Conquer Cancer campaign this month by recognizing and creating special memories with pediatric cancer patients, survivors, families and staff from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Events have been adapted to a virtual platform to provide safe interactions with pediatric cancer patients, survivors and staff.
The club will conduct hospital visits utilizing robot technology to allow patients to connect with Atlanta United players, celebrate hospital staff members through gifts of service provided by the club and other virtual events. For its Unite & Conquer Cancer match, Atlanta United will incorporate virtual in-match elements such as special Golden Spike hitter, a virtual human ribbon, hospital watch parties and a special Scarf of the Month designed by pediatric cancer patient, Dani Cuevas.
Children’s Heroes Recognition: Four Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital staff members will be recognized by Atlanta United for their acts of excellence during the pandemic. The heroes will receive a personalized gift of service provided by the club by having something taken "off their plate."
Pediatric cancer survivors and fighters will be virtually “interviewed” before being surprised by their favorite Atlanta United player, who will join the call to interact with the Conquer Kid and their family.
Virtual Hospital Visits: Atlanta United players will make virtual player appearances to provide a safe way for kids and players to connect while Children’s hospital staff will also deliver gifts to each patient. In addition, the club will surprise pediatric cancer staff at Children’s Egleston and Scottish Rite Hospitals with a free meal and gifts.
Watch Party: Patients and nurses’ stations will receive watch-party decorations to create a matchday experience in their rooms and the pediatric cancer floor during the Atlanta United Unite & Conquer Cancer home match.
Virtual Ribbon: To create the gold on-field human ribbon experience virtually, Atlanta United will compile photos submitted by pediatric cancer fighters, survivors, staff and families into a virtual mosaic ribbon during the Atlanta United Unite & Conquer Cancer home match.
MLS and Continental Tire will partner with MLS clubs, players and Greats (former players) to “surprise and delight” pediatric cancer patients and health care providers with unique experiences and acts of kindness throughout the month of September. Continental Tire will donate sets of tires to patient families and hospital workers in each of the 26 MLS Club markets to help off-set the financial burden associated with driving to and from treatments and appointments. Additionally, Continental Tire will provide “Kick Childhood Cancer Care Kits”, featuring games, activities, puzzles and more, which will be distributed to patients in local markets.
Fans are encouraged to support the campaign by submitting “Messages of Hope” to help inspire and motivate local pediatric cancer patients as they continue their journey in the fight against cancer. Fans may submit their message on social media channels using the hashtag #KickChildhoodCancer. For every post that uses the hashtag, Continental Tire will donate $25 in celebration of the League’s milestone 25th season to fund pediatric cancer research (up to $50,000) during the month of September.
Fan generated ‘Messages of Hope’ will also be used to produce club customized blankets to provide comfort to patients during treatments and/or hospital stays and club customized scarves (often used to convey a message or show support within the soccer community). Both items will be distributed to pediatric cancer patients during the holidays.
A holiday auction will provide an additional fundraising opportunity later in the season. Auction items will consist of game-used, autographed jerseys and soccer balls from September 2020 matches and other items donated by Continental Tire. Fans may also donate directly to Children’s Oncology Group HERE.
The Children’s Oncology Group is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to childhood and adolescent cancer research, uniting more than 10,000 experts in childhood cancer at more than 200 leading children’s hospitals around the world. Funds raised from the Kick Childhood Cancer campaign have enabled Children’s Oncology Group to strengthen research efforts across the entire spectrum of pediatric cancers, including Project: EveryChild – a unique project aiming to capture the biology and outcome data of every child diagnosed with cancer. The cost of a single enrollment into a clinical trial such as Project: EveryChild can approach $10,000 per patient. MLS has helped to offset the costs of more than 25,000 enrollments to-date, with an expected 30,000 to be enrolled by the end of 2020.
The month-long campaign will feature a commemorative gold ribbon on the adidas 2020 MLS Nativo XXV Official Match Ball to be used during all matches, as well as gold corner flags and goal nets. Kick Childhood Cancer gold captain’s armbands and gold ribbon jersey patches will be worn by the players. Technical staff will don Kick Childhood Cancer pins and PRO referees will sport gold wristbands.
Campaign elements will be promoted in-stadium, on league social and digital channels, and national and regional broadcasts. For more information on Kick Childhood Cancer, Children’s Oncology Group or other MLS WORKS initiatives, visit MLSsoccer.com/mlsworks.