Chisi & CHAMP take the field
When the U.S. National Women’s Soccer Team took the field on July 5 for their final warmup match before the Tokyo Olympics, CoachArt kid Chisi accompanied them — virtually. Chisi, age 8, from Gardena, California, experienced the event at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut through the “eyes” and “ears” of CHAMP, a custom robot created by Volkswagen to expand the reach, visibility, and impact of the Volkswagen Player Honoree program.
Volkswagen is the Presenting Partner of U.S. Soccer, and the player honoree program is a collaboration between U.S. Soccer and VW to highlight children with a passion for the game. The children selected have an opportunity to walk out onto the field with U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Team players during the playing of the National Anthem.
Thanks to CHAMP, which made its debut at a July 1 match, young soccer fans experiencing hardships or unique circumstances — like Chisi — have the opportunity to participate as a player honoree from a remote location. CHAMP gives them a “you are there” experience, and enables team members to interact with them.
Chisi’s medical condition hasn’t stopped her from playing the sport she loves. She participates in CoachArt’s soccer clubs.
“Sometimes my chest hurts,” Chisi said. “I can take medicine and use my inhaler. I love to play soccer but I have to rest, drink water, and continue playing. My coaches are nice because they let me take a break. I’m happy because the doctors, my parents, and the coaches help me stay safe and healthy.”
“One of Chisi’s favorite things to do is watch soccer games,” Chisi’s mom, Uju, said. “She looks up to Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. This is something she will never forget!”
CHAMP gave Chisi the experience of exchanging greetings with the players, taking the field with them, participating in team photos, and listening to 98-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPré play the U.S. National Anthem on his harmonica. To cap it off, the U.S. beat Mexico 4-0.
It was an event that many of us will remember with joy! Watch CHAMP and Chisi take the field.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR FAMILIES IMPACTED BY CHILDHOOD CHRONIC ILLNESS
Since 2001, CoachArt has offered free art and athletic lessons to chronically ill children and their siblings between the ages of 5-18. CoachArt matches volunteer coaches with kids for one-on-one or group lessons in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Portland OR, San Diego, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Our vision is that one day every family impacted by childhood chronic illness will be connected to a community of support and an opportunity to learn and grow together.
WAYS TO HELP
Do you have an artistic or athletic skill you would like to share with a child impacted by chronic illness? Become a CoachArt Volunteer.