The women’s soccer team raised over $5,500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at the Light the Night Walk on Oct. 17.
The team joined 4,000 blood cancer awareness supporters to illuminate Boston Common with red, white, and gold lanterns. Supporters carried red lanterns, those who lost a family member carried a gold lantern, and survivors carried white lanterns. LLS played music, prepared food, and arranged photo booths on the Common. The women’s soccer team collected $5,571 for LLS since Sept. 11—the third most they’ve raised.
This year marked the seventh time in the last eight seasons the soccer team raised money for LLS, elevating their donation total to $30,936, according to head coach David Suvak.
Gabrielle Grimaldi, the Light the Night campaign specialist for Massachusetts, said the team’s donations aid all angles of the fight against cancer.
“Our fundraising goes to patients, families, and groundbreaking cancer research,” Grimaldi said. “Some of the funds help patients with co-pay, chemotherapy, and travel assistant programs that get patients the care they need.”
Senior midfielder Kira Venturini helped Suvak and Grimaldi organize a fundraising team for the LLS at the beginning of the season. Suvak set a goal for each player to earn at least $100 and most of them collected donations through shareable links and Facebook.
Venturini said her interdisciplinary major, which focuses on non-profit management & writing, compelled her to take charge.
“One of the reasons I was excited to participate is because I want to work at a non-profit organization in the future, specifically in fundraising,” Venturini said. “Having 30 people on the team provided us with a solid foundation to make something special happen.”
Grimaldi said the team’s $5,500 donation stands as the second highest total amongst the 11 college organizations that participated.
Grimaldi said the soccer team’s contribution compares well with other top donations.
“Out of the 241 teams that helped raise money, [the women’s soccer team] is right up there with BioPharma companies and other big business corporations.” Grimaldi said. “We really appreciate the awesome work they’ve done for the LLS.”
Freshman Sophia Giordano, who raised $900, said her motivation came from experience with cancer in her family.
“Personally, I have had several people in my family pass away because of cancer, one of them because of blood cancer,” Giordano said. “When I posted my fundraising page on Facebook, I received a lot of donations from my family and friends who have also had to deal with the effects of cancer.”
During the Light the Night Walk in Boston Common, Giordano said the most memorable moment came from the cancer survivors in attendance.
“It was touching when the survivors gathered in a circle and shared their own courageous stories,” Giordano said. “After they spoke, they shined a white spotlight into the sky from the center of the circle. It was a very emotional and powerful moment.”
Suvak credited the purpose and proximity of the Light the Night Walk for inspiring players to participate each year.
“I think the cause is important to the players on the team,” Suvak said. “It’s especially important for us in particular because it’s right on our front doorstep here in downtown Boston, and it’s great for the kids to learn how to come together and help causes that are bigger than themselves.”
Venturini said she cherished the opportunity to combat cancer with other members of the team.
“It’s nice to know that you share certain values with your teammates,” Venturini said. “We’re used to winning and losing together, but it’s unique to make an impact together off the field and learn about other aspects of life.”
Following the soccer team’s substantial donation total, Grimaldi said she commends charity efforts from college organizations.
“I love working with college students because they are the future,” Grimaldi said. “It’s great to foster a relationship with the next generation of researchers, donors, and fundraisers.”