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Soccer players R.E.A.C.H. across the world

10:10 PM, May 5, 2012   |    comments
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"We're helping kids all over the world and it's something I would've never thought would happen but it is," said Aislynn Reardon, a 15-year-old Senior Ambassador for the Rush Soccer Club.

Aislynn is part of an effort called Rush Equipment Assisting Children or R.E.A.C.H. Families are asked to donate new or gently used soccer equipment to give to kids in Africa and Afghanistan.

"It may be old soccer stuff to us, but it's actually a really amazing gift to the people around the world who can't afford this," said Aislynn.

Hundreds of people showed up to the collection site at Clement Park with soccer balls, cleats, jerseys, and other gear.

"Cause of all the harsh conditions that they're living, these 3rd world countries, there's not a lot to look forward to," said Connor Georgopulos, a 16-year-old Senior Ambassador. "But, to give them all the stuff, that really gives them something to do and to look forward to."

Organizer Donna Pettigrew says soccer is a perfect way to relate to kids in other countries no matter what language they speak or their customs.

"It gives them such hope and that's what R.E.A.C.H. is about, giving the world hope," said Pettigrew, Community Outreach Director for the Colorado Rush. "These kids love doing it."

In August, Aislynn, Connor, and Taylor Dugdale will be amongst a group of players taking the equipment to South Africa to make a face-to-face delivery to children in poor areas.

"To be actually able to personally give what we've been collecting for years and months sorting and everything like that," said Taylor, a 16-year-old Senior Ambassador. "It's just gonna be exciting to see their faces and to be able to play with the kids."

Pettigrew says it's improving relations with the United States, as well. She says they are working in conjunction with the military to get soccer equipment to families in war-torn areas of Afghanistan.

"It's amazing what soccer does. It's the world's sport. It brings nations together," said Pettigrew.

State Representative Ken Summers believes the work of the R.E.A.C.H. program is so important he sponsored a proclamation creating Colorado R.E.A.C.H. day.

"That is what's so important about it," said Rep. Summers, (R) Lakewood. "It helps transform the attitude of those in these countries about what Americans are really about, what Coloradoans really stand for."

The Rush players just want to make life a little better for kids in these countries who have been through a lot.

"Just the simplest gift of a soccer ball or even cleats can just make a child's day," said Taylor.

Aislynn believes it can truly 'reach' their hearts.

"It makes them happy and makes them take their mind off of the bad things that are going through their lives, for just a little bit," said Aislynn.

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