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Kicking for a Cure soccer match tonight
The fourth annual Kicking for a Cure soccer match between Manteca and Lathrop will benefit Noah Valdez (center) and his family. Valdez is recovering from bone cancer in his leg. - photo by CHRIS LEONARD/


• WHAT: ‘Kicking for a Cure’ girls soccer match, raffle and silent auction. All proceeds benefit Noah Valdez and family.

• WHEN: Tonight. Kick off at 6:30 p.m.

• WHERE: Gus Schmeidt Stadium, Manteca High

• TO DONATE: Contact 209.608.0652, or send monetary donations to: MHS Athletic Boosters – Kicking for a Cure; c/o Manteca High School; 450 E. Yosemite Ave.; Manteca, CA 95336.

Its logo might adorn all the letterhead and signage, but Manteca High soccer coach Justin Coenenberg will be the first to admit the “Kicking for a Cure” game is an event driven by the community.

An impressive list of sponsors and volunteers is a testament to that.

The fourth annual “Kicking for a Cure” match takes place tonight at Gus Schmiedt Stadium, pitting the host Buffaloes against the up-and-coming Spartans of Lathrop High in a spirited battle for points and dollars. 

Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m.

The Buffaloes find themselves in a dogfight for one of the Valley Oak League’s three allotted playoff berths. Manteca (4-2-1) currently sits in fourth place behind league-leader East Union (9-0), Kimball (7-1) and Sierra (5-3-1). The Buffs trail Sierra by two points with six games left on their schedule.

The Spartans (2-6-1), meanwhile, are hunting for their first-ever win against a member of the Manteca city triumvirate.  

On this night, though, the result will be secondary to the action taking place in the outer ring of the stadium. Off the field, a winner has already been crowd. His name is Noah Valdez.

The game is a fund-raiser first, Coenenberg has said, with all proceeds benefitting Valdez and his family. Valdez is battling Ewing’s sarcoma, a form of bone cancer that has localized in his lower right leg.

The 13-year-old seventh grader was diagnosed with bone cancer in July. Since then, he’s undergone two surgeries at the Kaiser hospital in San Francisco and a demanding, if not taxing, treatment plan. Every two weeks, Valdez visits Kaiser in Oakland to receive five days of chemotherapy. Once he returns home, he endures two more days of chemo in addition to clinic visits.

Tonight, he’ll be feted for his strength and unrelenting spirit.

The game will feature both a raffle and silent auction.  

In three years, “Kicking for a Cure” has raised just under $15,000. The first two years, Coenenberg and his program donated the money to the American Cancer Society. Last spring, he decided to help a local family.

The Buffaloes didn’t have to look far for a recepient, selecting a youth soccer player whose story had already generated fans across the Central Valley. “Kicking for a Cure” raised $7,054 for Riley Simmons, a player with the Manteca Futbol Club and a Ripon resident. Simmons recently completed treatment for brain cancer and has returned to Colony Oak Elementary School in Ripon.

Coenenberg and his team of volunteers and players are hoping for a similar story tonight. To this point, the community support has been encouraging. Businesses and families from Stockton to Modesto have lined up with gifts and cash donations.

The list of raffle items includes: a Buffalo athletic swag bag; two Starbucks baskets; $25 gift cards to Target (3), Chili’s, Boutique Couture and El Jardin; two complimentary tickets to the Gallo Center; a pedicure at Queen Bee Nail & Spa; Stockton 99 tickets; shampoo/haircut/blow dry package at Hair by Belinda; a family pass to the Sacramento Zoo; four tickets to the Stockton Ports; three bird houses, donated by the Manteca High Ag Department; hair product basket; a chocolate arrangement by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory; a Mountain Mike’s/Chillaberries basket; and a one-night stay in a deluxe room with two buffet tickets, courtesy of Jackson Rancheria. 

The silent auction will feature: a “Kicking for a Cure” team photograph, donated by Leonard Photography and Frugal Frames; game balls autographed by the members of the Manteca varsity and frosh-soph teams, as well as the Lathrop varsity team; Oakland A’s (2) and San Francisco Giants (4) tickets; a baseball basket with 10  tickets to see the Modesto Nuts; a “Kicking for a Cure” blanket; a Lottery tree; Block M trailer hitch covers; stained-glass soccer ball; separate themed baskets for Easter, Duck Dynasty, Frozen and Chocolate; as well as an autographed Mia Hamm picture, courtesy of the Mia Hamm Foundation.

Even the Spartans have joined the fund-raising fray.

Lathrop has raised at least $650 for the cause, said Lathrop coach Gabe Padilla. The second-year coach hopes that figure will have grown closer to a $1000 by kickoff.