May, 2006 – On a beautiful spring night in Manhattan, over 300 people turned out for Soccer for Peace’s annual fundraiser. The event, held May 31st at the West Side Loft, raised over $100,000 from registrants, corporate sponsors, auction and raffle participants and donors at-large. Soccer for Peace is extends its utmost gratitude to all those who attended and certainly those who helped plan the event.
Coming days before the World Cup, the evening was a celebration of soccer and humanity. Sunil Gulati, President of the US Soccer Federation; Shep Messing, former US star and ESPN commentator; and Ethan Zohn, winner of ‘Surivor: Africa’ and founder of Grass Roots Soccer were the guests of honor. Each has not only contributed to the sport itself but has similarly harnessed its reach to create good in the world.
Said Zohn, “Soccer is the world’s sport; you can travel anywhere, put a ball down in any corner and instantly you have friends. No other sport has the power to unite like soccer.” Illustrating Zohn’s point was the temporary cease fire declared in Cote d’Ivoire, where civil war has divided the historically stable nation since 2003. Whether it is a lasting peace (and whether the ‘Elephants’ make it out of Group C – the ‘Death Group’) it should never be forgotten that on the eve of the country’s first-ever World Cup appearance, its citizens all stood together.
Soccer for Peace will use the proceeds of the event to fund ‘Camp Coexistence 2006’. Starting on July 9th, the eve of the World Cup final, 100 Jewish and Muslim campers in the Middle East will come together for an intensive, overnight soccer camp. And as we exceeded our fundraising goal, we are further pleased to provide additional programming once the camp is over.
The fundraiser on the 31st would never have been possible without the vigilance of its organizing committee. The organization thanks all its members, profoundly and repeatedly, and gives a special shout-out to its tireless leaders, Julie Kopel and Yael Melamed.