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Hauppauge Soccer's Kicks for Cancer: A Tradition of Love, Community, and Resilience

Updated: Sep 6, 2023


Hauppauge Soccer's Kicks for Cancer: A Tradition of Love, Community, and Resilience



Every year, the Hauppauge community comes together for a cause that touches the very heart and soul of our town. As we approach this year's event, there's a palpable sense of excitement in the air. We are on the verge of hitting a significant milestone - the half-a-million-dollar mark in funds raised, a testament to the growing spirit of generosity in our community.


The Birth of a Legacy: Remembering Courtney Tomkin

The origin of Kicks for Cancer is deeply personal and rooted in the story of a brave young girl named Courtney Tomkin. In 2007, Courtney, then a junior at Hauppauge High School, was diagnosed with brain cancer. A beloved figure in our school, she was the manager of the Girls Varsity Soccer team. In 2008, Varsity Goalie Alexis Gonzalez, backed by Coach Jesseca Kulesa, took the initiative to launch the first Kicks for Cancer event. Their vision was simple but profound: to show Courtney the depth of love and support our community could muster.


The event became an overwhelming expression of solidarity, but tragically, Courtney passed away on December 13, 2008, at the tender age of 17. Though her life was cut short, her impact endures. The Kicks for Cancer event is not just a fundraiser; it's a beacon of hope, a legacy left by Courtney that shines brighter every year.



Making a Difference: 16 Years and Counting

Over the past 16 years, our collective efforts have managed to raise over $457,000. These funds have been channeled towards esteemed institutions like The Making Headway Foundation, The American Cancer Society, The American Lung Association, ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation, The Make a Wish Foundation, The Courtney Tomkin Courage Scholarship, and more. Additionally, we've been able to provide direct support to local families grappling with cancer diagnoses or losses.


How Hauppauge Soccer League (HSL) Pitches In

The success of Kicks for Cancer owes much to the HSL community. Here's how we contribute:


  • Travel teams donate raffle baskets.

  • Middle School team players contribute candy for sale.

  • The Boys & Girls Varsity teams provide drinks for the event.

  • School players engage in raffle and apparel sales.

  • A 'Kicks for Cancer' spirit week is conducted by our school district.

  • Generous local businesses, including pizzerias, donate food and more.

  • Numerous community members donate their time and resources.

  • Young travel teams participate as ball boys/girls during the games.

  • How You Can Make a Difference

  • For Business Owners: If you're looking to sponsor or make a contribution, please reach out to kulesaj@hauppauge.k12.ny.us.


For Community Members: Your presence is invaluable. From setting up the event to ensuring everything runs smoothly to clean up, every helping hand counts. Stay tuned for our volunteer signup sheet.



Special Note: A heartfelt message from Courtney's family has been beautifully captured in an issue of Horizons from October 2022. We highly recommend reading it to understand the depth of impact this event has had over the years.


The following was written by Courtney’s father, Daryl Tomkin:

“That fall, she ran out onto the field facing an uphill battle. You wouldn’t have guessed by the big smile on her face as she greeted her teammates in the middle of the field. It was the day her friends and this community stood by her side and developed “Kicks for Cancer.” This community was a place she loved to call her home. “Kicks for Cancer” meant the world to Courtney and to us, her family. Courtney was brave and courageous beyond her years and she knew that her time here was going to be cut short. We are all put to Earth for our lifetime for however many years it is. For Courtney it was a life that had hardly begun, but that’s not how she described it. For Courtney ‘it was 17 great years.’ Our daughter, your sister, your friend, your student, taught us to look at the world through better eyes; to take time to enjoy life’s simple joys. She set about creating special and memorable moments. She made every day count. ‘Kick’s for Cancer’ allowed her to see just how much love she was going to take with her. Courtney’s life ended on December 13th, 2008, but she left us a lifetime of fond moments, precious memories and so much love. Our life as a family will be forever changed and our hearts broken for having lost a daughter and a sister as special as Courtney. We take pride in knowing however, that her life meant something to all of you who share in this event. So we wish to thank you for making this event in honor of Courtney, and for loving her and missing her as much as we do. Courtney was so proud of the Hauppauge Girls Varsity Soccer Team. Their love, generosity and friendship were unbelievable and meant the world to her. We hope that Kicks for Cancer continues to grow, that the proceeds will benefit other children suffering the terrible tragedy of Cancer, and that someday this charitable event will help in finding a cure.”

The "Kicks for Cancer" initiative resonated far beyond the soccer field, becoming a beacon of hope and unity for the entire Hauppauge community. It not only embodied Courtney's tenacity and love for life but also solidified the unbreakable bond shared amongst her friends, family, and all those who knew her.


This campaign has undeniably stitched together the very fabric of the Hauppauge community, with neighbors coming together annually, not just in memory of a brave young woman, but in a collective effort against the ravages of cancer.


The initiative has brought schools, local businesses, and organizations together, amplifying the message that in unity, there is strength. As the years pass, the legacy of "Kicks for Cancer" stands as a testament to her indomitable spirit and the community's unyielding commitment to supporting those in their most vulnerable moments.


Since its inaugural year, Kicks for Cancer has added 43 other Long Island schools who each host their own Kicks for Cancer events.




And for a touching glimpse into the spirit of this event, including a tribute to Courtney, please visit the Kicks for Cancer Facebook page.


Let's come together once again, Hauppauge, and make this year's Kicks for Cancer the best one yet!


Photos of the event and further details to follow.



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