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"In any language, the whole world is united by a ball." --- Steve Amoia, World Football Commentaries

Friday, May 23, 2008

Kick For Nick: Tribute to a Young American Hero

I was watching the MLS Game of the Week on ESPN (San Jose Earthquakes 2 x Houston Dynamo 1) here in North America. During the half-time break, they reported on a very interesting story. It reminded me of something from many years ago. Pelé caused a truce in the Biafran Civil War in Nigeria. In that case, a great athlete stopped a war with a ball. If only for a few days. In this case, the memory of a young man's passion for soccer, along with children, will be imbued in war-torn Iraq: Private First Class (PFC) Nicholas A. Madaras of Wilton, Connecticut.

"The war itself at times confused Nick, the way is confuses many others. He believed in what he was doing, and truly wanted to help the people of Iraq. Nick particularly was fond of the Iraqi children. He would see them kicking bags of rocks around the streets trying to play soccer and realized these kids are no different than him. When he was home on leave in July 2006, he rounded up as many balls as he could to bring back to the children of Iraq. Nick figured if a war that had raged on for more than thirty years in the Ivory Coast could be stopped because of soccer, why couldn’t one be ended in Iraq?

Nick was killed in action by an IED on September 3rd of 2006 at the age of 19. The men in his unit and all of us back home were completely devastated and continue to mourn to this day. Our way to get back at the men who did this, however, won’t be a course of hatred and rage.

Instead we are spreading Nick’s love of soccer and his dedication to the children of Iraq by sending to Iraq soccer balls to be distributed to the children of Iraq directly by our soldiers in the field. We are all fulfilling Nick’s dream by collecting and distributing these balls. Nick’s Comrades in Arms have told us that when the times get really rough over there and they’re searching for a reason for all of the madness, they can hand a ball to one of the children and look at their eyes glow with happiness, remember Nick, and realize that yes, it is worth it."

Source: Tom Thresher, Kick For Nick.

How Can We Help to Promote His Legacy?

Each ball will have "PFC Nick Madaras" handwritten across its surface two or three times. Here are a few ways that the international football community can pay tribute to PFC Maderas, promote his legacy, and provide joy to many Iraqi children.

"Ball Donations

Contact Ken Dartley (Project Manager).
or Bill Madaras (Father of PFC Nicholas Madaras).

Send Balls!

Balls (individuals or a few cartons)

Send balls to:

Bill Madaras
35 Signal Hill Road, S.
Wilton, CT. 06897

Balls (Bulk Shipments)

We are working on arrangements to make this possible, thank you for your patience.

Monetary Donations

Contact Bill Madaras

Monetary Donations:

Make check out to: KICK for NICK Foundation

Send Checks to:

Bill Madaras
35 Signal Hill Road, S.
Wilton, CT. 06897

Donations to this fund will be for the exclusive use of KICK-FOR-NICK Foundation to purchase balls, pumps & packaging materials and to cover shipping costs.

This fund is a 501c3 Organization so all donations are tax-deductible, a thank-you letter will be sent to donor giving the details of the fund, which can be used for tax purposes."

Text for the Donation details courtesy of Kick for Nick.

A Polarizing War, A Simple Act to Unify

The War in Iraq has polarized the United States, along with many other countries. But in this case, I hope that we can unite to honor the memory of a young man whose life was cut tragically short. His idea to promote goodwill can hopefully have a lasting legacy for many years to follow. "The whole world is united by a ball" exemplifies the sacrifices of men such as PFC Madaras, along with this special tribute to his memory. MLS will be honoring this young man as we approach Memorial Day (26 May). So can we. Let's Kick For Nick.

A List of His Military Honors
Bronze Star Medal
Purple Heart
Army Commendation Medal
Army Good Conduct Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Combat Infantryman Badge
Parachutist Badge
Weapons Qualification Badge: Expert
Driver and Mechanic Badge
Courtesy of Nick's Memorial.

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