Youth players stage “juggle-a-thon” fundraiser for cancer-stricken coach Shawn Kuykendall in Va.
Shawn Kuykendall has been helping Washington, D.C.-area kids improve their skills for years, and now two of his youth players are using them to help him in his fight against cancer.
A former American University standout who spent time in MLS with D.C. United and the New York Red Bulls, Kuykendall (whose father Kurt played for the Washington Diplomats in the old NASL) has built a solid coaching reputation as a youth trainer and AU assistant.
Many in the local soccer community have rallied around him since he revealed last month that he is suffering from thymic cancer, a serious condition which has required an intensive regimen of chemotherapy, prompting his friends and family to coin the term “Kuykenstrong” as he battles for his life.
T-shirts emblazoned with the motto are available for sale on kuykenstrong.com, a blog set up to share information about his situation, and have been worn by several of Kuykendall’s old friends in the professional ranks, including U.S. National Team Clarence Goodson at the Gold Cup championship match in Chicago last month. Goodson and Kuykendall won an Under-17 national championship together with Braddock Road Warhawks during their youth soccer days.
Next week two of his youngest pupils, Akshay and Akash Gupta, will do their part to help Kuykendall by staging a “juggle-a-thon” at the Spring Hill Recreation Center in McLean, Va. to raise funds for his treatment costs.
“Anyone who knows Coach Shawn knows he is caring, funny, encouraging and always puts smiles on our faces,” explain the duo on their event’s website. “Coach Shawn is tough and positive and makes everyone a better soccer player. Since Coach Shawn always tells us to keep juggling and comes up with ways to make it more fun, we thought getting kids together for a juggle-a-thon dedicated to Coach Shawn was an excellent way to raise money for his cancer treatment.”
The juggle-a-thon is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. ET on Spring Hill Field #5. Soccer fans of all ages and ability levels are invited to sponsor (whether by the minute or by the juggle) someone in the event or take part themselves.