You probably would not expect to find advocates for breast cancer awareness on a South Bay soccer field. However, these young people have taken on the challenge and raised tens of thousands of dollars in the last two years.
"It actually made me feel pretty good to help people out," said 10-year-old Irina Quibelan.
The money raised will pay for free mammograms for women 40 and older who have not yet had one, and could not afford it otherwise.
"We're going to do screening mammography on approximately 72 people -- 72 women -- in one day," explained Dr. Imtiaz Qureshi, director of radiology services at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View. "The idea is to increase the awareness for early screenings for breast cancer because the earlier you diagnose breast cancer, the better the outcome is for the patients."
The fundraising effort is the brainchild of Jason Azevedo, tournament director of Santa Clara Sporting Club and his brother who coaches there. They saw first-hand how mothers of their young soccer players were affected by breast cancer.
"We started seeing that some of them were not getting detected because they just didn't have the money to do so," said Azevedo.
So they outfitted the kids in pink jerseys to raise awareness and the players started collecting sponsors for a goal-a-thon, but it went far beyond that.
"We had everything you can imagine, from teams making friendship bracelets and selling them at the games, to every time there was a goal scored, they'd take an Alhambra jug and pass it down the sideline and start chanting and people would fill up the Alhambra jug," said Azevedo. "It really became something of its own."
In October 2008 and October 2009, more than 500 kids who are part of Santa Clara Sporting Club raised $47,000; all donated to El Camino Hospital Foundation and earmarked for women who have not yet had a mammogram.
"I really admire the efforts of young people coming together and helping the society with this cause," said Qureshi.
You can expect to see the pink jerseys again this October.
"We have no concept of it stopping now; this is one of our yearly things now, it's on the calendar," said Azevedo. "We're going to continue to do it until it doesn't exist anymore."
All the free mammogram spots are taken for this weekend, but El Camino Hospital is taking down names for future free screenings and they will send ABC7 viewers a women's breast health package.
Women's Health and Breast Health Package includes:
- Breast self-exam shower card
- Free membership in the Women's Hospital health membership program ($25 fee will be waived for ABC7 viewers) that offers monthly health newsletter on women's health issues, free screenings and consultations for women and free healthy gifts and discounts.
For more information, call (800) 216-5556.
Written and produced by Tim Didion.