As a small child screamed “Mommy!” and sprinted away from the Nittany Lion mascot, the audience of the men’s soccer game could feel the family atmosphere around Jeffrey Field.
On Sunday, more than 100 Soccer Shots children and about 10 Four Diamonds children were included in the Penn State’s men’s soccer game at Jeffrey Field to promote the fight against pediatric cancer.
Soccer Shots was started in 1998 in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Since then, it has become a national franchise aimed at the promotion of athletics in youth, mainly through soccer.
Head coach Bob Warmingsaid the game was “more than agreed to.” He said it was something he wanted to have happen.
In order to support the Interfraternity Council/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, Warming said he decided a while ago that if a game is going to be on TV, he would use that chance to spread the word of THON and its existence.
“Really, only the one thing Penn State does [best] is raise money for children with pediatric cancer,” Warming said.
Having met people from the Soccer Shots at Wegmans, Warming’s idea snowballed into the event that unfolded this past Sunday.
“All of us are so fortunate. We all have a responsibility,” Warming said as he listed multiple efforts that the team coordinates to raise money and awareness for THON.
Ranging from canning to a children’s FIFA tournament to a dancer in THON, Warming said he hopes the game added to his message to the players that helping people is essential.
“Not every kid has a good day,” Warming said, so he hoped with the game that “the kids just have a great day.”
Eric Wales, Penn State alumnus and Soccer Shots franchisee, is a local representative of Soccer Shots in Pennsylvania.
Wales decided to have the Soccer Shots children included in the Penn State soccer game in order to promote the relationship between the university’s athletics and the franchise.
Having multiple coaches who are Penn State students and involved in THON, Wales said he believes in the cause and hopes the event is a step toward the franchise’s effort of being involved in THON.
Based on “the high profile nature of Penn State athletics and what they stand for,” Wales said he decided partnering with the university is a step for the franchise and inspirational for the children to see what they can become.
Wales hopes that the children get “lots of smiles and a chance to meet and get to give a high five to the men’s team.”