By Nicole MOORE
On March 4, Montana LeBarge, a fifth grader at Paradise Canyon Elementary in La Cañada, held a fundraiser at La Cañada High School’s turf field for the City of Hope. Kicks 4 a Cure was a two-hour soccer event, organized entirely by Montana, that was designed so children of all skill levels could participate while raising money for cancer research at the City of Hope. The event raised $2,460, surpassing Montana’s initial goal of $2,000. Forty participants played five games during the event with 30-40 spectators cheering them on.
Montana cites her love of soccer and her father as sources of inspiration for Kicks 4 a Cure. She has been playing soccer since the age of 6 and made the LA Premier Club team three years ago. Her father, Mark LaBarge, is a breast cancer researcher at City of Hope.
“[I thought] ‘Why not raise money for cancer research by doing something fun like a soccer game?’” said Montana.
She began planning for the event in September as a project for School X, an afterschool entrepreneurship club.
In preparation, Montana met with the LA Premier Club director Barry Ritson to gather his input. She also wrote letters to her fellow soccer players asking them to participate in the tournament and raised awareness by asking local business owners to put up flyers in their establishments. Additionally, Montana made a website specifically to collect for donations to the City of Hope.
“Under the encouragement of my coaches Zach Jennings and Eric Lin, I worked on [‘Kicks 4 a Cure’] in spurts until the tournament in March,” she said. Montana hopes to make the Kicks 4 a Cure fundraiser an annual event.
When Montana is older she said she would like to play on the Women’s National Soccer Team and to be on the ski patrol.
Donations are still being collected. To donate visit https://ourhope.cityofhope.org/fundraise?fcid=855540.