September marks the start of Atlanta United’s annual Unite and Conquer Cancer campaign while MLS WORKS – Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform – and Continental Tire are teaming up to support Childhood Cancer Awareness Month with the 8th annual “Kick Childhood Cancer” campaign to raise awareness of pediatric cancers and fundraise for childhood cancer research.
Atlanta United will observe its 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.
According to a release, the club will conduct hospital visits utilizing robot technology to allow patients to connect with Atlanta United players while also celebrating hospital staff members at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals. For its Unite & Conquer Cancer match, Atlanta United is proud to welcome back pediatric cancer fighters and survivors to Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the first time since 2019 to enjoy a tailgate and pre-match ceremony on the field. Finally, Atlanta United will host five ‘Conquer Kids’ at the club’s training ground for a VIP experience and the U&CC match on Sept. 18 against D.C. United.
Owen Klemme Conquer Kids: To honor a dear friend of Atlanta United, the Conquer Kid program has been renamed the ‘Owen Klemme Conquer Kids’ (OKCK). Owen was a pediatric cancer fighter with an exuberant spirit that left a lasting impression on the club’s players and staff. Owen passed away this summer with his family by his side. Starting this year, the Conquer Kids will be selected by Camp Aurora, a non-profit day camp that Owen loved to attend with his siblings and fellow campers. The five Conquer Kids will be hosted by Atlanta United and receive a special experience at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground and will also attend the U&CC match against D.C. United.;
Virtual Hospital Visits: Atlanta United players will make virtual player appearances via the club’s OhmniLabs Robot, sponsored by AT&T, to provide a safe way for kids and players to connect during the ongoing pandemic. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospital staff will also deliver gifts to each patient.
U&CC Matchday and Golden Tailgate: The annual U&CC match on Sept. 18 against D.C. United will include the traditional gold elements in the stadium and the club will continue its tradition of having pediatric cancer fighters and survivors announce the starting line-up. In conjunction with the Supporter groups, the ‘Golden Tailgate’ will provide a fun experience for the kids and families to enjoy before creating a human ribbon on the field pre-match.
Children’s Heroes: Atlanta United will provide giveaways for all Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta staff at Egleston and Scottish Rite Hospitals. In addition, the club will recognize top staff members who have gone above and beyond during the year with special gifts.
MLS’s Kick Childhood Cancer campaign will promote and benefit Children’s Oncology Group (COG) Foundation, 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. The Kick Childhood Cancer campaign has enabled COG 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.
As part of this year’s campaign, MLS Clubs have created custom pajama bottoms to be distributed to local pediatric cancer patients as a token of comfort while they continue their journey in the fight against cancer. Continental Tire will also amplify campaign efforts with an inspirational Kick Childhood Cancer video series hosted by MLS player and childhood cancer survivor, Matt Lampson. The series will feature empowering stories from current and former patients, families, doctors, caretakers, and community members who aided children on their road to recovery.
Fans are encouraged to support the Kick Childhood Cancer campaign by tweeting inspirational messages with the hashtag #KickChildhoodCancer during the month of September. For every post featuring the #KickChildhoodCancer hashtag on Twitter from September 1-30, 2021, Continental Tire will donate $1 (up to a maximum of $50,000) to COG.
MLS and Continental Tire will partner with MLS clubs to “surprise and delight” pediatric cancer patients and health care providers with unique experiences and acts of kindness throughout the month of September. Messages of hope generated from players, coaches, and staff will be used to produce customized blankets which will be distributed during the holidays to provide comfort to patients during treatments and hospital stays.
Throughout the month of September, MLS, its member clubs, and players will drive awareness of the campaign through in-stadium activations, league social and digital channels, and on national and regional broadcasts.
A holiday auction consisting of game-used, autographed jerseys and soccer balls from September matches and other items donated by Continental Tire will provide an additional fundraising opportunity later in the season.