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Getting the Ball Rolling

Kicks for Cancer

If anyone had stepped into the Berman Athletics Center on Friday March 15th at 5pm, they’d have immediately been blanketed in an electric atmosphere. The entire room was charged with adrenaline, as it so seemed: no matter if you were a teacher, a staff member, a student or an alumni, everyone was teeming with excitement. 

This was an annual occurrence, and marked the start of one of the most cherished school events, Kicks for Cancer (KFC). 

Started over a decade ago by AFS students Christina Furlong ‘11, Ellen Carney ‘11, and Kelly McGlynn ‘11, Kicks for Cancer is an annual, student-run fundraiser. Sometime in the spring, the indoor soccer tournament takes place. This year, the event was able to raise more than $15,000 for melanoma research, all being donated to Fox Chase Cancer Center. 

The event itself is a cornerstone of the school community. This year we saw Chris Hunter, biology and physics teacher, equipped in lab goggles and heat protectant gloves act as fearless goalie and the return of many ‘23 graduates like Bella Mele and MJ Kiernan. We also saw the return of Furlong and Carney, two of the original founders of the event. Both Furlong and Carney talked affectionately about the origins of KFC, and the “why” behind the reason for the fundraiser. 

Carney (‘11) stated that, “I think it was preseason of soccer, our sophomore year I believe. Christina had just lost her father recently and it was obviously a really tough time. He had been at every single one of our games, [and] just such a core support system; almost [like] a second coach. We all obviously felt the weight of his passing and were trying to figure out the best possible way to support Christina, and so one day you and I just got to talking about it…how can we make this mean something? How can we carry on his legacy? How can we make sure we’re doing something positive with this awful thing that happened. That’s kind of where it all started.”

The trio certainly succeeded in that; now over a decade later, KFC has raised about $85,000 to put towards Melanoma research; every year the money that’s being raised has only grown. This year, the $15,00 that was raised showed an incredible increase from last year’s amount, practically double; this was a testament to the incredible work the planning committee did this year, consisting of Julia Marczak ‘24, Angela Stevens ’25, Mayalondyn Gray ‘25, and Logan Copeland ‘26. 

One of last year’s organizing clerks, Bella Mele, shared her thoughts on the event, specifically on the changes that the new organizing body implemented for this year’s tournament. She spoke highly of the event, stating that, “the committee has done a great job this year, and I think it’s going to be an awesome event…I was down at the Lower School earlier today and I heard a lot of buzz [around] Kiddie Kicks for Cancer, so I thought that was a really great idea…[as well as]  the two brackets, I love it! The noncompetitive and competitive [allows] for a more inclusive event.” 

The changes that were reflected in the event this year proved even more successful than anyone could’ve thought. Kiddie Kicks, happening from 3:15-4:15 gave the younger students opportunities to get involved with an event that was dominated by upper schoolers. 

Sitting down with Angela Stevens (‘25), she gave me a little bit of insight on the changes: “I took the lead role in planning this and I really made sure that Kiddie Kicks was going to happen this year. [The committee] wanted to push this and make it a bigger community-based event by including the lower school…We finally landed on the idea of a little soccer clinic led by upper school students…We felt that the lower school was so [removed] from the event, and we didn’t understand [why]. We just knew we wanted to broaden our audience and emphasize this as a school-wide event.” 

The evolution of KFC could really be seen; Furlong (‘11) and Carney (‘11) were reminiscing about the beginnings of KFC: “It was kind of a pipe dream at first,” said Carney. 

Furlong (‘11) added on by saying, “I wanna say that when we first started, we barely had 12 teams. I think we were struggling to find people who wanted to play and who could commit the time. I think we only charged $10, and everyone wore their own shirts and…it was really basic. After that it just took off and people were signing up right and left. We had to squeeze people in, people had to be on multiple teams just to have a spot.”

That change meant that Furlong and Carney (‘11) were establishing a foundation for the generations of AFS students to come. This year’s KFC event is only showing how the legacy that they left behind, along with Ray Furlong, will be remembered and carried on. 

Even though Ray Furlong is no longer with us, he continues to positively impact the lives of AFS students and people who are suffering from melanoma and bringing together the entire AFS community at the same time.

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    LoganMay 13, 2024 at 10:56 am

    KFC is an event where, when mentioned, kids get super excited. The goal of this event is not only to raise and spread awareness of this problem but also to build a bigger and better community. AFS has made it so that when we host this event, it is not just AFS kids. Other schools showed their support, and we saw students’ competitive side in small teams of 5 playing against each other, making the games more interesting. I think it’s important for this school to spread awareness of this cause. Next year, we are hoping to raise 20k, showing our dedication and support for this cause.

  • A

    AngieApr 12, 2024 at 5:28 pm

    WOOT WOOT!! Awesome article Priyal! Thanks again for doing this!