The Manteca High girls’ soccer team will be kicking for a lot more than just goals when they host Lathrop High on Monday, April 25.
They’ll be “Kicking for a Cure.”
For the last five years under the tutelage of head coach Justin Coenenberg, the Manteca High girls have been putting their soccer skills to good use by raising money for a sick child in the community and raising awareness for those who through no fault of their own don’t have all of the same opportunities that most children do.
This year the game will benefit 7 year-old Isaac Flores Herrera, who was diagnosed last year with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) and underwent chemotherapy treatments and routine blood checks to chart how the disease was progressing.
And he’s not out of the woods yet.
While the frequency of his medical visits has declined and his condition has somewhat improved, Herrera still can’t spent long periods of time around groups of people because he is hyper-susceptible to bacteria and infection. He’ll be undergoing chemotherapy injected into his spinal cord for three years, and as a result he has been unable to finish kindergarten like the rest of his friends and is now homeschooled because of the health-implications of the treatment he is undergoing.
But according to a heart-wrenching letter that his mother wrote, even amidst great odds he’s showing the same youthful spirit that you’d expect to find in a 7 year-old boy.
“Although he is still fighting this battle, Isaac is continuing to stay strong and brave through it all. He continues to be the happy and loving boy we all know he is,” his mother wrote. “At home he’s always smiling, singing or dancing to his favorite tunes. There is never a dull moment with him and he brings joy to the people he encounters.
“Although he is still battling his cancer, as of now he is better than he was a year ago, his hair grew back, his defenses are stronger, and he is able to go out more and isn’t as weak anymore – even though with chemo everything can change and he can go back to losing his hair and feeling sick. We are thankful that as of now he is okay.”
Currently Coenenberg is accepting donations for a raffle and silent auction that will raise money to benefit Isaac and his family with their mounting medical bills. Those wishing to donate – either as gold donors at $1,000, green at $500, silver at $250 or white at $100 – will have their names listed on the “Kicking for a Cure” banner that will be displayed at next year’s home football, basketball and soccer games as well as the Athletic Boosters’ annual Rib Dinner.
Ever since the foundation was started, the program has raised more than $40,000 for five Manteca families all going through circumstances similar to Isaacs.
Last year they raised more than $14,000 for Destiny Herrera – who is battling her own form of cancer and had the opportunity to come out and watch some of the girls and became friends with them. Since the event started the team has raised more than $40,000 to assist those fighting cancer.
According to Coenenberg, the effort shows the girls that there are people that aren’t as fortunate as they are, and he’s proud of the work that the girls have done to help the community as a whole.
Donations can be sent to Manteca High School – Kicking for a Cure, c/o Manteca High School, 450 E. Yosemite Ave., Manteca CA 95336. You can contact Coenenberg at 209.608.0652 for additional information.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.