2013 "Goals for Life" Drive Raises Funds for Tree of Life Cancer Fund
Members of the Gloucester High School Girls Soccer team are not only scoring goals on the field, they're using their athletic skills to give back to their community.
For the past four years, the team, led by Coach Robert (Bob) Fisher, has conducted a "Goals for Life" fund drive to support breast cancer prevention and patient assistance programs at Riverside Walter Reed Hospital (RWRH). During that time, the girls raised funds by asking family, friends, neighbors and local businesses to make pledges for each goal they score during the season.
For the first three years, the donations went to the Hospital Auxiliary to help provide mammograms for low income and uninsured residents. In 2013, the girls donated the money they raised to the Tree of Life Cancer Fund.
Raising money this way is fairly common among athletic teams, according to Coach Fisher, but most of the time the money goes toward team needs — uniforms, equipment and so on. Fisher, who has been the volunteer girls soccer coach at Gloucester High for 17 years, has a different philosophy.
“I believe we as coaches have a great opportunity and an obligation to teach students more than just how to play the game. We should be helping them learn how to be a part of their community, to give back and help those in need.”
– Robert Fisher, coach
Fisher said the students considered various community charities that needed support, but ultimately chose the RWRH breast cancer prevention and patient assistance programs. "It needed to be a cause the girls could relate to, and one that would provide a learning experience as well," he said. This made hospital's breast cancer programs an ideal fit. The support provided by RWRH doctors and staff was equally important. "They just took the girls under their wing, giving them tours, teaching them about breast cancer, helping in every way to make the experience a truly valuable one," he added.
The girls wholeheartedly agreed. Team member Lean Procopi described the experience: "This program was unique because not only were we able to give to others, but we were also able to become more informed about breast cancer and other cancers. Overall, the program helped each of us learn the value of giving back, and how to be conscious of our bodies for early cancer detection." For some, the experience was personal.
“My grandmother is a breast cancer survivor, and her experience had a large impact on my choice to participate. I participated in "Goals for Life" because I really wanted to make a difference in someone's life..”
– Olivia Cross, team member
Angie Healy, Gift Planning Director for the Riverside Foundation, praised the "Goals for Life" fund drive as the perfect example of how we can all work together to make a difference in our community: "Bob and the girls on the soccer team inspired the community to give, and it certainly moved us at Riverside to provide as much support as possible to make the effort a success."
Coach Fisher agrees. "Without Angie's support and the involvement of [RHRH Marketing Director] Shannon Fedors and [RHS Team members] Paula Cotee, Shirley Cook and Dr. Lori Gillespie, the educational aspect of "Goals for Life" would not have been possible," he said. "And we owe a big thank you to Bob Kane, Director of the Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center at RWRH, who gave the fund drive a real boost by donating a one-year membership as a prize for a lucky donor to ‘Goals for Life."
"I'm truly overwhelmed by the generosity of our Gloucester folks and the enthusiasm with which the girls of the Gloucester High soccer team grabbed hold of ‘Goals for Life' and how they made it their own. We can all be very proud."
For more information about "Goals for Life" or to support next year's initiative, please contact us.