The athletic complex at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School athletic was teeming with pink and teal-clad folks of all ages Saturday. Some wore cleats, some sold raffle tickets, some held clipboards and hundreds sat on a hillside watching soccer at the school’s 13th Kicks for Cancer fundraiser. Each one held close to their heart at least one person impacted by the disease.
Steve Wells is a longtime assistant coach for C-C. On Saturday, he manned the sideline, alongside head coach Ray Pavlik, for the Patriots’ game against Lincoln-Sudbury. The two have coached together for 16 years. Wells helped originate this impressive three-day fundraiser 13 years ago after his mother, Lois Wells, died of ovarian cancer.
Pavlik and the team decided to do something to support Wells, so they organized a soccer fundraiser for cancer research. Thirteen years later, Wells is still on C-C’s sideline, but it’s not just one game: 32 teams passed through Saturday, resulting in more than $200,000 in donations to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
“It’s absolutely mindblowing,” Wells said. “When it started off just as that one game, I thought this was amazing.
“It just kept growing and growing, and every year I can’t believe we continue to add some new game or feature to it. It’s very humbling to me.”
How did a small event grow into the massive effort known today? Pavlik, in his 18th season as coach, said the key has been love.
“We started this to try to help our friend through a difficult time,” he said. “Everyone who’s come has said this is an amazing experience, we want to be a part of this. We’re running out of field space.
“This money’s going to make a difference. People are going to survive because of this. Somewhere out there someone’s mom or daughter is going to be around because of it.”
The event’s logo has “Wells” featured on it, a reminder of the genesis. But really, it’s a time for everyone involved to think of their own connection to cancer.
Every player wore a jersey with the name of a loved one, and everybody had a story.
Dastan Pakyari coached his Lexington team to victory over Needham thanks to a hat trick from senior Sam Boehm. Pakyari’s shirt said “Grandma.” He said his grandmother, Ghamar, has had colon cancer twice, and “she’s going strong today,” he said. “She’s a warrior.”
Boehm wore his own last name on his shirt to honor multiple people closely related to him who have had cancer.
This was the third Kicks for Cancer for Lincoln-Sudbury senior Greg Gallo, whose shirt read, “Erszi,” the first name of his great aunt who died of cancer. She lived in Hungary, but he visited her numerous times. “It means so much to me, so much to my family,’’ he said. “She’s such a big role model. To know that I got to play with her on the field is pretty awesome.”
Isak Shapiro, a senior for Brookline, is named after his great grandfather, who died of cancer. He never met him, but he got to honor him during Brookline’s 1-0 win over Newton North by putting his nickname, “Bubba,” on his jersey.
Manuel Lancastre, another Brookline senior, wore the name of his friend’s grandfather, who died this summer. “My friend was really sad so I wanted to dedicate this game to him and his grandfather’s life. I felt like it made me play better.”
What started as an attempt to help a grieving son has turned into a community institution. More than 1,100 took to the road on Sunday, running in the Mighty Moose 5K in honor of Jenna Swaim, a longtime Kicks for Cancer attendee and organizer who died of cancer last year.
“She wanted to plan this. She wanted to do this race,” said Amy Davagian, a longtime friend of Swaim. “She was in treatment and she had to focus on her health, so she couldn’t execute it. It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to give back in this way, in Jenna’s honor.”
L-S boys’ coach Dave Hosford said the weekend offers his players a rare look beyond the simple goal of winning a soccer game.
“You see the boys understand a larger message, what’s on their back,” Hosford said. “The guys I coached the first year we came, they’re still coming back, and this is what they remember. What they wore on their back, and who they were playing with.”
Hosford wore “Chloe” on his back, in honor of his former student who he said is now cancer-free.
For more on the Kicks for Cancer event, or to donate, check out their website here.
■ Mystic Valley senior Lukas Drahos recorded his 100th career goal on Friday afternoon, joining the elusive 100-goal club for Massachusetts high school soccer. The score came in the second half of the Eagles’ 5-4 loss to Chelsea. Drahos now has a state-leading 27 goals in 10 games this fall. “When I was a freshman, I scored 17 goals and there was another player in the league that year who scored 100 goals,” Drahos said. “So I was always thinking I want to do that. It’s crazy that I’m there.”
■ At the halfway point of the season, there are 14 unbeatens in Eastern Mass: St. John’s Prep, Lincoln-Sudbury, Lexington, Winchester, Oliver Ames, Milford, West Bridgewater, Framingham, Norwell, Scituate, North Andover, Nauset, Cohasset and Natick.
This week, Lexington will play at Winchester and Oliver Ames and Milford will square off.
■ Dover-Sherborn scored a 4-2 upset win over Wellesley on Saturday . . . Charlie Blacker of Scituate leads the Patriot League with 9 goals and 3 assists . . . No. 6 Bedford lost its first game of the season, 2-1, on Saturday to a tough Wayland team . . . Natick (3-0-4) picked up two more scoreless ties this week against Framingham and Braintree. The Redhawks now have four ties and three scoreless ties in seven games played . . . Gloucester (6-1-1) hosts Lynn Classical (7-1) Wednesday with the inside track to the Northeastern Conference South Division at stake.
Games to Watch
Tuesday, Revere at Nauset, 7 p.m. — A dangerous Patriots squad (8-1-1) makes the trip to Eastham for a nonconference clash with third-ranked Nauset (6-0-2).
Wednesday, Lexington at Winchester, 4 p.m. — The fourth-ranked Minuteman (7-0-1) face off against 17th-ranked Winchester (5-0-2) with first place in the Middlesex League Liberty Division on the line.
Thursday, Lincoln-Sudbury at Bedford, 4 p.m. — A huge matchup in the Dual County League as the second-ranked Warriors (9-0) try to stay undefeated against No. 6 Bedford (6-1-1).
Friday, Oliver Ames at Milton, 4 p.m. — First place in the Hockomock League is up for grabs between a pair of unbeatens.
Saturday, St. John’s Prep at Needham 6 p.m. — The top-ranked Eagles (8-0-1) face one of their toughest tests of the season in this nonleague showdown vs. the No. 7 Rockets (5-2-1).
Matt Doherty also contributed. Charlie Wolfson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.