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MSUB Athlete Makes a Difference with 'Headers For Haiti'
"Headers For Haiti" conducts drive for used soccer equipment (above), while some of the recipients show off their new gear (below).

Monday, September 24, 2012

BY MICHAEL BAZEMORE
MSUB Sports Information

BILLINGS, Mont. - Some of the best ideas arrive from the unintentional actions you go through on a daily basis.

Such is the case with the non-profit organization that Montana State Billings freshman goal keeper Megan Wade started two and a half years ago as a junior at Wenatchee High School.

Wade an East Wenatchee, Wash. native played club soccer in Seattle which is approximately 140 miles from her hometown. A careless mistake one evening sparked an idea that helped produce Headers for Haiti.
 
After being dropped off in Seattle for a club match, Wade went through her normal routine putting on her equipment and realized that she forgot her cleats. Frantically calling her teammates to borrow a temporary pair, Wade commonly got the response “we donated our cleats.” Eventually a temporary pair of cleats was found, but Wade was now more interested in the process of donating her equipment she no longer used.
 
Learning that most of her club teammates donated their cleats to the poverty stricken country Costa Rica, Wade started formulating a plan to create something that would have an impact on similar impoverished areas. Speaking with family friend Dr. Dave Wiggum, Wade discovered that a group of doctors take an annual trip to Haiti and volunteer their services providing medical aid to habitants.
 
With the knowledge learned from Dr. Wiggum combined with stories from another family friend who visited Haiti during the earthquake relief efforts, Wade decided to found “Headers for Haiti.” This non-profit organization donates new and used soccer equipment to Haiti. Wade a Wenatchee high junior at the time started Headers for Haiti in 2010 and has been running the operation with her mother Karen Wade for approximately two and a half years.
 
Wade sets up drop boxes throughout the city to collect new and used equipment for Headers. She also met with several local business owners and organized a $50 dollar donation for each header goal scored by Wenatchee high at their home games. At the end of the soccer season Wade and her mother take inventory of all the donated equipment, then coordinate the logistics of transporting the items with the local group of doctors that travel to Haiti annually.
 
Aside from the local businesses, Wade also reached out to her Wenatchee high teammates to gain support for Headers for Haiti. Second year Yellowjacket Jennifer Johnson was captain of the team at the time and Wade said “Jenny was great in the initial proposal to the team and helping galvanize participation in any way that would help the organization.”
 
Last year Headers set up a drop box for the Make a Difference Day foundation, which is the largest day of community service each year. It's an opportunity to celebrate the power of people to use their time, talent, voice and money to create change.

“In projects like this sometimes there are secondary outcomes and unplanned bonuses,” Karen Wade said. “At Headers for Haiti we saw an unexpected outcome in what a profound impact handing out soccer equipment to kids had on the doctors. This project illustrated to the doctors how much soccer is a part of most cultures of the world. After two trips with Headers for Haiti gear the doctors joke that their mission is taking soccer equipment and they hope they can get a little medical relief to the people too. The kids know this group and ask when the soccer doctors are coming back.”
 
In Wade's first year of operating Headers for Haiti she gathered $200 in personal and business pledges, 100 balls and 30 pair of cleats. This past year in 2011, Wade collected $500 of personal and business pledges, 300 balls, 150 pair of cleats and other miscellaneous equipment. Wade also worked out an agreement with Mike Thomas (U.S. Soccer Foundation's point person) and Eurosport where they would donate equipment through their Passback Program from that year. In total Wade said they donated approximately nine boxes worth of equipment in 2011.
 
“It's very pleasing and humbling that Headers for Haiti has drawn so much support,” stated Wade. “I enjoy how the organization has stayed close within the community and hasn't become a national foundation. It brings a family atmosphere to Headers and you know and see where the equipment is going. I would like to thank everyone that has participated with the success of Headers for Haiti thus far, and I also want to give a special thank you to the doctors that have been instrumental with the transportation of all the equipment.”
 
While Wade is currently adjusting to life as a college freshman student-athlete, her mother is taking the lead with operating Headers for Haiti. She has not initially discussed expanding operations to Billings, Mont., but once Wade is more comfortable in her role as a student-athlete she will reevaluate the organization and strongly consider expanding operations to the Magic City.
 
“I understand soccer equipment may not be as important as food, water, medicine, clothes, etc.,” said Wade. “The equipment donated can help provide joy and positive entertainment in an environment that is very bleak. When I receive pictures of the children in Haiti wearing the donated equipment, I am extremely happy and overwhelmed. It reminds me of a family trip I took to Africa when I was younger and playing soccer with the local children. The universal language of soccer has no boundaries and extends to all cultures.”
 
“We are thrilled with the impact that Megan has made on and off the field in the short time she has been at Montana State University Billings,” stated head women's soccer Wojtek Krakowiak. “As if being a full-time student and playing NCAA Division II soccer isn't hard enough, she has found a way to go the extra mile and provide for the less fortunate. Megan exemplifies the type of person on and off the field that the MSUB women's soccer program welcomes.”
 

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