Santa Clara Sporting Club, one of California’s oldest soccer clubs, provides the opportunity for boys and girls ages eight to 18, of all economic backgrounds, to play the elite sport at the highest level. The teams and club are consistently ranked one of the Top 5 in Northern California and in the Top 10 nationwide. Their players are eagerly recruited by many colleges, and several have gone on to compete at the professional level in Europe and Mexico, unburdened by the high cost of an academy program. They graduate, not only with outstanding athletic skills, but also with the commitment to give back to their community, honed by the club’s Goals for a Cure fundraising program.
“Some of our most rewarding work happens off the field,” shares Santa Clara Sporting Club President Luis Azevedo.
In 2007, the mother of one of the players on the 93 Boys Team died of breast cancer while they were competing for the State Cup. That young man came back to play in the final game of the tournament and scored the winning (and only) goal. Deeply touched by his courage in the face of devastating loss, and knowing that several other club members’ mothers had also succumbed to breast cancer, brothers Keven and Jason Azevedo, then a coach and tournament director, decided the club should do something to help avert more tragedies.
At first they simply hoped to raise awareness of the disease that had taken such a heavy toll on their organization. But when they realized they could get a nationwide audience as their teams competed all over the country, they turned their effort into a fundraiser. Thus “Goals for a Cure,” inspired by one brave young player’s winning kick, was born. They proposed the idea to the other coaches and managers, and Santa Clara Sporting Club embraced it. A third partner in their business, Matteo Studios, donated his time to create the logos, press releases and website. “Best of all was seeing a community of people go for a common cause and goal and run with it,” Keven commented at the time.
Since 2008, all 35 Santa Clara Sporting Club teams, 650 boys and girls, have been competing in pink jerseys during the month of October which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. They raise money through flat donations and a “goal-athon” that earns money for each goal scored. Each team has the opportunity to come up with their own creative fundraising ideas. The Club made its first donation of $27,237.45 to El Camino Hospital Foundation to benefit the hospital’s free mammogram program in the spring of 2009, and have made yearly donations ever since. Cumulative gifts now total $320,237.45 and the Club has no intention of stopping.
The Club’s philanthropy is making a difference. In 2016 alone, the Breast Health Center at El Camino Hospital provided 270 free breast screenings (initial and diagnostic follow-up) to 150 uninsured and underinsured patients. Eleven of those patients had biopsies, four of which unfortunately turned out to be positive. One of them was a young woman in her 40s who had postponed screening, even after she found a lump in her breast, because she did not have health insurance. El Camino Hospital was able to provide all her breast imaging and the biopsy free of charge. “I strongly believe that had she not found our program, her cancer would have continued to grow and she would have been diagnosed at a later stage,” says Dr. Silaja Yitta, director of Breast Imaging and Intervention at El Camino Hospital. “The free mammogram program saved her life.”
Santa Clara Sporting Club was recognized as a Distinguished Volunteer Fundraiser honoree at the Association of Fundraising Professionals Silicon Valley Chapter’s 2018 Philanthropy Day event. This recognition celebrates the Club’s dedication and support of the free mammogram program at El Camino Hospital.