Q&A with Sidekicks organizer Kersten Mullan
Lost amidst the events of the past few weeks was the launch of the Sidekicks, the significant others of the players and coaches who have unified to provide fans with some cool events and fundraising opportunities. Their first function as a group was an Autograph Alley two weeks ago, where 100 fans got a chance to meet the players after the 3-0 win over Portland down at field level
But where did this come from…what it’s all about…what’s next?
ColoradoRapids.com caught up with Kersten Mullan (above left), Brian’s wife, who took the initiative of getting this project off the ground here in Colorado. Here’s how it all began, and what it’s all about…
How did the Sidekicks come about?
When I was in Houston I was lucky enough to be around a set of players and a set of wives who were really committed to each other, and really committed to trying to use our relationship to give back to the community. Haley Barrett, Wade’s wife (Houston Dynamo assistant coach), had a really great idea to start a wives charity.
We had the first great event in 2009 – which we’ll do here – the Closet Sale. We ask the players to donate their old polo shirts, national team stuff, team gear, or shoes that didn’t fit from sponsors, and a lot of experiences like Dinner with a Player, or Golf with a Player, and things like that. Then we had fans bid on the items. That effort kicked us off and raised $16,000 for the Ronald McDonald House.
When I got Colorado, looking back at the great work the ladies did there in Houston, I wanted to pitch it to the wives here. And the response from the players’ spouses here has been amazing!
What was the background of starting the Sidekicks in Houston?
We had been discussing the idea of starting a charity, and were set on getting off the ground for the 2009 season. Around that time, our youngest son Keagan had just been born and unfortunately spent some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and as a result, Brian and I utilized the services of the Ronald McDonald House.
We had brought Keegan home and then it was discovered that he was jaundice but his levels were pretty out of control, and they were concerned because of the blood type issues. He was admitted into NICU, and the policy was that you can’t sleep bedside. So our options were to stay up all night, or the nurses suggested we could use the Ronald McDonald House, where we could stay there close to Keagan.
The care at the hospital was unbelievable, and he responded so quickly that we were able to bring him home on the third day. But in the meantime, we slept in the Ronald McDonald House. So that became an organization for me that is close to my heart.
It became one of those things were had this great idea for fundraising, and amazing beneficiary that had a direct impact on us. Both came together and we started the Sidekicks.
What is the mission / goal of the Sidekicks?
We want to use our personal relationship with the player to offer opportunities for fans that will ultimately result in raising some dollars to give back to the community, to give back to Denver and Colorado. Not only do we want to give them cool opportunities, but also let fans know that if they support the Sidekicks, that money will go back into the Community.
The Sidekicks will use our relationship with the players to give the fans something unique that no one else can give, not even the front office. And it’s not all about raising money, we’ll offer cool experiences to meet the players as well.
How have the players responded?
For the players, it’s different when your wife is asking you to do something! What’s really cool is that it is different for the players. They understand that this effort is coming from a different side, it’s about families and about supporting their wives and their fellow players’ significant others. Wells Thompson’s wife, Daphne (above right), has stepped up to help us get going. On our first event – the autograph alley – we had more than 20 players come out to sign autographs, so they have been great!
What are the next projects?
The next project comes up on Thursday, at the World Cup of Wine and Beers (TICKETS AVAILABLE). We put together these basket as an opportunity to show the fans the players’ personalities away from the field, something we had a lot of success with in Houston.
We met with the players and explained what we wanted to do, and asked the guys to think about how they could show the fans who they were, besides the guy fans see running around. We wanted fans to learn about the players from a completely different perspective.
It’s been pretty awesome and the guys have been great. For instance Matt Pickens’ basket is all about the Midwest, and the outdoors. Ian Joyce and Drew Moor did a basket about what they do on their day off, so they included gift certificates to places to go to. Tyrone Marshall is doing a basket about cooking, and combining his Jamaican roots to his wife’s southern roots. A lot of player wrote personal letters to whoever wins their basket. And of course each will have a ‘big ticket’ item, like a signed jersey or cleats. They’ll all be there on Thursday for people to bid on.” (SOME ITEMS PICTURED BELOW)
How can fans contribute time, money, or communicate with the Sidekicks?
Look out for Sidekicks events, and come talk to us. We’ll be doing a t-shirt sale for Military Appreciation night in July 28. Keep your eyes open to the website, or come talk to us at any of the events. We’d love to get other ideas of things fans think we should try to do. We also hope to get up and running on social media soon, too.”