About eight or nine years ago we stumbled upon a non profit called Charity Ball that had set out to make the world a more beautiful place by handing out soccer balls around the world. It was an idea that we supported 100% and so we wanted to find out more and help spread the message. It was at this point that we found out that Charity Ball was started by a kid named Ethan King who at the time was probably nine or ten years old.
In the years since, we have watched Ethan grow Charity Ball into an ever evolving non profit doing good all around the world. As Charity Ball matured, so did Ethan. That young kid that started this movement has now graduated high school and is off to college where he will be playing soccer (more on that in a minute). But first...
In 2016, travel restrictions from the USA to Cuba were historically lifted, making it possible for Americans to visit. Wanting to make the most of this historic opportunity, Charity Ball courier, Ginger Lu, booked a flight and set out to make the world a little more beautiful for kids on the island nation. Here is her story:
"Walking through the streets of Old Havana, the first thing that caught my eye were the rows and rows of colorful, but decrepit houses, and then the sounds of street vendors selling their batido de mamey or guarapo, drinks made from sugarcane and guava fruits. I rounded one corner and found myself in an old abandoned parking lot, which graffiti artists had turned into a place where children come to play sports. Even on a hot summer day, there were many children of all ages playing a pick-up game of soccer with a ball made of newspaper and crushed soda cans tied up with a piece of twine.
I approached one of the youths, Carolos, an aspiring professional soccer player at eight years old who was watching his older brother Jaime play a game with his friends. He told me that they came to the park to play every day after school. The rising popularity of the sport in recent years can be explained by increased access native Cubans have with the rest of the world. Both children and adults can be seen playing pickup games on empty alleys and streets, making do with what little they have. Soccer fever has caught and spread with the young men of the island nation. However, soccer balls are still hard to come by for the majority of players. Apart from government and military officials, the majority of the citizens of Cuba make salaries that equal our $20 a week. Carlos said that on some days, they would have a ball to play with. More often than not, they would have to wait at least an hour until one of the lucky kids that owned a ball arrived so that they could start a game. I put one of Charity Ball’s new soccer balls in his hands and told him,”para ti, de tus amigos en los Estados Unidos.” For you, from your friends in the United States. He shouted with joy and ran off to show his brother and their friends. Within seconds, I was surrounded by happy kids hoping to get their hands on one of these prized possessions as well.
Children in the United States take these simple moments for granted, but for a child growing up in poverty, these moments mean more to them than words can explain. Jaime told me that they keep up with their favorite players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, and aspire to be like them one day. Having the necessary equipment to practice will help them get one step closer to their dreams. With increased travel to Cuba opening up from the United States, we can begin to make more of a difference as time goes on to positively impact futures for hundreds of children."
This is an incredible story and shows the impact that Charity Ball has had on countless kids around the world.
Earlier I mentioned that Ethan had just graduated from high school and that he will be off to college in the fall. And high school graduation is a big deal and graduates often get big parties and presents to celebrate their achievement. But Ethan has chosen another way to celebrate this. To help continue to fuel Ethan's desire to do good and spread the beautiful game, he has opted out of a party or gifts and instead has launched a campaign to raise money that will go to clean drinking water and soccer balls for kids in Africa. Here is info direct from Ethan on this campaign and how you can help:
I recently graduated from Grand Haven High School and will be continuing my education and athletic career playing NCAA Division 1 soccer for Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.
To celebrate my graduation, I’m helping kids in Africa.
Rather than throwing a big party and asking people to bring gifts, I am launching a fundraising campaign to raise $20K to give 6000 kids clean drinking water and 200 more new soccer balls. So far I have secured almost $6000 and need about $14K to reach my goal.
I’d love to have you and/or your firm help me celebrate by making a financial contribution to my campaign.
You can send a check to:
PO Box 1425
Holland, MI, 49422
(Memo: Grad Party)
Or you can donate online at https://charityball.org/campaigns/gradparty2017/
Congratulations Ethan! We wish you nothing but continued success in the future and we know the world will be a better place because of you.