De La Salle soccer offers a kick-start to pediatric cancer research

Coach Thaier Mukhtar and De La Salle Collegiate President John M. Knight were joined by the soccer team captains Tadeusz Gabryel, Justin Huttenlocher and Matt Johnson at the check presentation at C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

De La Salle Collegiate’s soccer team has given cancer a kick with a donation of more than $16,000 to the C. S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan.

“We wanted to do something special,” Pilots varsity soccer coach Thaier Mukhtar said. “We came up with the idea about playing a 'cancer game' to raise a few thousand dollars and donate it to cancer research.”

In September, De La Salle and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice played four soccer games  – varsity, junior varsity and two alumni contests – billed as the Catholics vs. Cancer Soccer Showdown at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac. Gate receipts and merchandise sold totaled $8,085, which De La Salle and school president John M. Knight agreed to match.

The presentation of a check for $16,170 was made Nov. 5 to the hospital’s Block Out Cancer Campaign in support of pediatric cancer research. The campaign has raised more than $191,000 this year.

The Pilots raised another $1,675 online through a Crowdrise page, bringing the school’s total donation to $17,845.

“When it came to $16,000, that’s amazing,” Mukhtar said. “Every time I think of that total I get emotional. Mr. Knight and De La Salle matched the $8,000 that we raised at the game that we originally thought would raise maybe $3,000, and we went way above that.”

“Being faithful to our La Sallian roots, De La Salle Collegiate is proud to present this donation on behalf of our student body and our larger community,” Knight said. “There’s no more appropriate mission or ministry for us to help. May God continue to bless all the children in the world, especially those struggling with cancer.”

Also present at the presentation were Dr. Rajen Mody, a professor of pediatric hematology and oncology; De La Salle soccer captains Tadeusz Gabryel, Justin Huttenlocher and Matt Johnson; and De La Salle alumnus Steve Spicuzzi, whose young son is battling cancer.