In 2018, as with every year, some of the best stories from the club came from our involvement in the community. Included in our countdown are stories with themes of resilience and determination but most of all, the moments below showcase the power of sports and the impact they can have on the world around us.
5. Supporting Those Who Serve Us
Zac MacMath and Dillon Serna have been recognized for their selflessness both on and off the pitch, but after partnering with Coca-Cola to visit active duty service members and their families they were humbled by the real-life sacrifices of the United States military men and women. MacMath, Serna and Rapids' alumni Bobby Burling took a trip to Rocky Mountain United Service Organization (USO) at Fort Carson to conduct an afternoon of soccer clinics with over 50 military children ranging from 8-12 years old.
“We appreciate the military families so much," Serna said. "It was a good opportunity for us to come out and put a smile on the kids' faces, while letting them play some soccer. I hope they learned some new things and will continue to play and develop."
Following the soccer clinics, the players signed autographs, posed for photos, and passed out Colorado Rapids gear. Tickets were distributed to the Rapids August 11th match against San Jose Earthquakes for Military Appreciation Night, where the club celebrated the armed forces.
4. Jennifer Joins The Rapids
Pulling on the armband for your club represents something special. Coaches, fans, referees and fellow players hold this honor as an illustration of leadership and inspiration.
As a part of MLS and Kick Childhood Cancer awareness month, the Rapids had the honor of signing 12-year-old Jennifer Anderson to a one-day contract and she served as the honorary Kid Captain for the September 15 match against Atlanta United FC.
Jennifer is currently battling Leukemia and joined the team during warmups, attended the coin toss ceremony and had her place in the starting lineup announced on the big screen. She was also included in the Starting XI team photo.
It's been two years since the soccer community learned about Kortne Ford's mother and her battle with Stage 4 cancer. Since then, fans and players have rallied together to show support in extraordinary ways.
Unfortunately, at the beginning of 2018, Laurie Ford's doctors noticed elevated cancer levels, and gave her three-to-six months to live. The diagnosis prompted Kortne to open up and share the story behind the #SupportTheFords campaign via a heartfelt video message and written letter.
Laurie's fight is not over. If you'd like to contribute to her treatment fund, please visit www.gofundme.com/laurieford.
2. Howard's Heroes
For two decades, Tim Howard has put his stamp on the game of soccer. His career includes World Cup records and years tending the net in the Premier League. He's accomplished it all while dealing with Tourette Syndrome. He's been vocal that one of the greatest accomplishments is his advocacy for others living with Tourette through his foundation, Howard's Heroes.
Through the organization that was founded this year, the keeper has had the opportunity to meet with a child that has Tourette Syndrome after every home and away match in 2018 to give advice and create memories through photos and autographs. His guidance has helped countless kids gain confidence that they can achieve anything they set their mind to, just as Howard has done.
Howard has been an advocate for the TS community for many years, and has been a supporter of the New Jersey Center for Tourette Syndrome, which is where he’s from and where he started the NJCTS Tim Howard Leadership Academy.
Follow along in the video above as Howard gives advice postgame to a young fan, Sean Tracy, with Tourette Syndrome.
1. Special Olympics Travel to D.C.
The Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team had the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C. for an away game. For some of the athletes this was their first time traveling out of Colorado and for most, the first time they had been on a trip without their parents. In addition to the game against D.C. United Unified Team, the athletes had the opportunity to explore the National Mall. The athletes were able to take in all of the monuments including the White House, the Vietnam Wall, the WWII memorial, the Abe Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian.
The real treat, however, came during the behind the scenes tour of the United States Capitol when a special video sparked a moving lesson from head coach Kaly Warner.
"During the tour of the Capitol, we were shown a video about the founding of our country and our country’s first motto, “E pluribus unum,” or, “Out of many, there are one," Warner said. "This motto couldn’t describe our unified team any more accurately. We discovered that our unified team reflects the foundational values of our country. Despite our differences, we can all work together to accomplish something great. Our strength comes from learning about each other’s perspectives and experiences. If there is anything we have learned throughout this entire experience, it is that we never know what someone or something is like until we truly engage with each other with open minds and hearts. E pluribus unum. We are stronger together - unified."
This season, marked the seventh consecutive year where the Colorado Rapids and Special Olympics Colorado have forged a partnership. The unified team, which is comprised of players both with and without intellectual disabilities between the ages of 16 and 35, received training from the Colorado Rapids players and coaches and participated in three games including the away trip to D.C..
Learn more about the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics Unified Team by clicking HERE.
Want to see more? Click HERE for all the best video content from 2018.