If a soccer player receives a red card during a soccer game, they are ejected from the competition.
Abington Heights junior midfielder Spencer Houck, 17 , is trying to knock out cancer by organizing the “Red Card for Cancer” project.
“We do it every year, and it’s always a really good program,” Houck said. “We raise a lot of money and it helps a lot of people. I’ve also enjoyed it, so I thought I would (organize) it this year for my senior project.”
Houck started the planning a couple months ago by reaching out all the soccer players in the area, and schools in the Abington Heights School District. He also took shirt orders and worked with Soccer Plus, Clarks Summit in distributing the orders.
“Everyone really likes it,” Houck said. “We sell as lot of T-shirts and everyone gets really into it.”
Several athletes adopted the program as their senior project last season, but Houck is running it himself this year. Although the work is time consuming, the Waverly resident knows his efforts are supporting a great cause. He received assistance from the other members of the team.
“I spend several hours a week on the project,” Houck said. “It’s a little bit each day, some more than others. It’s a big job, but I felt that I was up for it.”
Comets’ head boys soccer Steve Klingman adopted the fundraiser at the school in 2009, shortly after Bloomsburg University men’s soccer coach Paul Payne started the effort as a tribute to his friend and mentor Joe Bochicchio, who succumbed to melanoma.
Klingman, who previously coached the men’s soccer team at the University of Scranton, shared an office for about 20 years with Bochicchio, who coached the university’s women’s team.
According to Klingman, several other local high schools have also participated in the program over the years, including Holy Cross, North Pocono, Mid Valley, Valley View, Wallenpaupack, and Western Wayne
This year, the Abington Heights middle school soccer team, Abington Heights girls varsity soccer team, and soccer teams from Valley View, Western Wayne, Wallenpaupack and West Scranton took part in the drive, Klingman said.
“Last year, we made more than $4,o00 at Abington Heights,” Klingman said. “The local basketball programs have Coaches vs Cancer, so it’s nice for the soccer programs to also take part.”
Klingman estimates the school has raised between $3,000-5,000 each year.
According to Houck, Klingman stresses giving back to the area through various avenues.
“We’re a team for the community,” Houck said. “It’s important that we help out any way we can.”
Spencer is the son of Lou and Sue Houck.
The boys team hosted a Red Card game against West Scranton on Oct. 10, while the girls team also took part in the program when they welcomed Valley View on Oct. 7.
Houck said roughly $1,500 was raised for the American Cancer Society through the project this year.
“He did an outstanding job,” Klingman said.
The Comets currently have a 9-2-1 record.