MD Anderson and Houston Dynamo FC team up to kick childhood cancer

Players bring joy to pediatric patients with “end goal’ to raise awareness about childhood cancer 

HOUSTON ― The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center is joining forces with Houston Dynamo FC to raise awareness of childhood cancer in its third year amplifying Major League Soccer’s (MLS) Kick Childhood Cancer campaign. Players will honor MD Anderson pediatric cancer survivors at the Sept. 3 game against the Portland Timbers, and will engage in activities throughout the month to raise awareness and support patients and their families.

As part of the awareness campaign, 18 cancer survivors from MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital will be recognized during the Sept. 3 ‘Kick Childhood Cancer Night’ game at BBVA Stadium. Dynamo players will wear custom jerseys with the first names of pediatric patients during pre-game warm-ups. After the game, patients will receive the autographed warm-up jerseys, an honorary team contract, a photo of the player along with a special message, and a bag of goodies to commemorate the game.

“We are thankful to the players and MLS for their efforts to support our patients and to raise awareness about childhood cancer,” said Daniel Smith, director of Pediatric Support Programs at MD Anderson. “Activities that allow our patients to engage with professional athletes from the Dynamo and Dash really lift their spirits and help them get through these challenging times, especially since in-person events are not possible due to current COVID-19 precautions.”

Earlier this week, Dynamo Starting XI players were surprised with their very own headshots drawn by cancer survivors and their siblings as part of an art activity with MD Anderson’s Arts in Medicine and Children’s Art Project teams. The fun and creative headshots autographed by the budding artists will be shown at the game during the announcement of the Starting XI players.

Children’s Art Project, a program inspired by the artwork of patients being treated at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, also worked with the Dynamo to design pajama bottoms featuring a pediatric patient’s artwork. The colorful pajama bottoms will be distributed to patients in the hospital throughout the month of September.

“Increasing public awareness of childhood cancer is a crucial step in moving the needle forward when it comes to research and clinical needs as well as patient programming,” said Richard Gorlick, M.D., division head and chair of Pediatrics at MD Anderson. “We are grateful to the Houston Dynamo FC and the Houston Dash teams for their continued support of programs that positively impact the lives of our patients and their families.”

Dynamo and Dash players also will join patients and their siblings for two virtual soccer-themed bingo sessions hosted by MD Anderson’s Child Life team. In accordance with COVID-19 safety precautions, the teams will make a special food donation to patients, families and staff at the hospital.

“The ‘Kick Childhood Cancer’ platform has been a longstanding initiative for Major League Soccer and the Dynamo. Our work with MD Anderson, the nation’s top hospital for cancer care, creates even more opportunity for us to make a difference in the lives of children facing cancer,” said Dynamo President John Walker. “The incredible faculty and staff at MD Anderson do amazing and truly impactful work through their mission to end cancer. The ability to shine a light on that work through our platform is something that each member of our club, on and off the field, takes great pride in doing.”

MD Anderson has been the official cancer center and jersey partner of Dynamo FC since 2019. In early 2020, the relationship expanded to include the Dash.