Now in its second year as a partner in Target USA CUP’s Kick Cancer initiative, the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital has big goals – both in its relationship with the tournament and its higher motivation. It is the only hospital in the area that is nationally ranked in pediatric cancer research, the cause at the core of the Kick Cancer initiative, and just like any organization battling cancer the hospital’s aim is to find a cure.
The hospital is well-suited to do so. As a part of a state university, the organization is tied to academic health care. That means they have elite physicians treating patients, but faculty also get many research opportunities. Ashley Lawson, part of the hospital’s community partnerships team, said the hospital has more clinical trials than anyone else in the area and has set standard for worldwide treatments.
“We’re going to continue to excel at the research and the care and hopefully, some day, find a cure,” Lawson said.
That quest requires a lot of funding, which is the reason the hospital got involved at Target USA CUP. With so many people rolling through the National Sports Center for Kick Cancer day Thursday, the tournament presented a unique chance to get the word out and raise money.
“Not only does it raise awareness for the Masonic Children’s Hospital and what we do that there’s this world-renowned hospital here in the Twin Cities, it raises the awareness of pediatric cancer in general,” Lawson said. “Everyone has been touched by cancer at some point, and certainly there are so many kids and families that are impacted by pediatric cancer particularly.”
The hospital and Target USA CUP teamed up to create a varied approach to raising money. For every goal and clean sheet Thursday, Target USA CUP is donating $1 to the hospital. Donations can still be made online, at Kick Cancer headquarters or by texting “usacup” to 41444. Certain vendors agreed to donate a percent of their proceeds, and anyone who donated over $5 at Kick Cancer HQ could get a ticket in a raffle to win merchandise autographed by Minnesota United players.
As it turns out, the Masonic Children’s Hospital and Target USA CUP are a perfect match. Lawson said the hospital’s mix of local and international patients compares well to the diverse teams that come to Blaine each summer.
“We’ve had patients that have played in this tournament before, and certainly there are a lot of friendships and families that participate in this, too,” Lawson said. “It’s a really cool way to amplify our partnership a little, talk about pediatric cancer and make a difference for it.”
It’s only been two years, but Lawson said the hospital has enjoyed the partnership with Target USA CUP and hopes to not only maintain the relationship, but augment it going forward.
“We see so much potential in this partnership,” she said. “There’s so much more we can do to raise the level of USA CUP and that the CUP can do for us, too. We’re really hopeful that in the future we can partner again and make this Kick Cancer initiative even larger.”
Perhaps the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital will become a staple of Target USA CUP for years to come. All that is certain now is that the partnership has been well-received.
“Anything we can do to find new treatments and hopefully find a cure at some point, that’s what we want to do,” Lawson said. “We’re so grateful for everybody’s partnership here at the USA CUP to help in that mission.”