Valley Soccer's Valley Voodoo U9 team, in blue, does battle with the Towamencin Tigers in the third hour of the 24-hour Sarah Parvin Memorial SoccerFest held at the Quakertown Soccer Club grounds last Saturday and Sunday. The event raised funds for tovarian cancer research.
For the seventh consecutive year, Quakertown borough has opened its heart and soccer fields for a worthy cause.
The annual fundraising event dubbed "SarahFest" or, more commonly known as the Sarah Parvin Memorial SoccerFest, was created in 2007 as a way to honor borough resident and soccer club player Sarah Parvin who succumbed to small cell ovarian cancer in 2006 at the age of 12.
Her family, friends, and the community came together to honor her through the Sarah Parvin Foundation which raises money through two sporting events each year, SoccerFest and Par for Parvin. Thanks to the SoccerFest event this year, like many others in the past, a $50,000 donation was awarded to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Ovarian Cancer Research Lab. Over $300,000 has been raised since the start of the SoccerFest seven years ago.
The 24-hour soccer event typically runs over the last weekend in July and is held at the Quakertown Soccer Club grounds on California Road. Last year approximately 185 teams came from all over Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York to show their love of soccer and family while raising money for cancer research.
This year brought in 209 teams with over 500 games being played round-the-clock. Each participating team does not keep score or end with a winner and varies in age from under 9 to over 30 years old. The goal is to celebrate the life of Sarah Parvin and continue her legacy.
Not only do teams travel from several states to participate, but they are welcome to stay on the grounds of the soccer club in the "tent city" or in motor homes. Live music plays throughout the event, a bounce house and water play area are set up for children, and there are plenty of vendors offering a variety of food and refreshments.
Many teams return every year to show their support. Amy Gray of East Greenville explained, "This event has become a tradition in our family. We have reconnected with old friends and made great memories over the past six years. Twenty-four hours of fun soccer with fun people for a great cause. I don't know the Parvin family but they hold a special place in our hearts and we love being a part of such an amazing event."
Regardless of age, the event proves to be understood even by youth players like Jackson Gray, 13, Amy's son. Gray has been a part of SoccerFest for the past three years playing for the Valley Demons. "It's a fun way to raise money for cancer research," Gray said.
Gray's younger brother Owen, 11, is in his first year of participation for the Valley Venom team. "I like Sarah Parvin (SoccerFest) because I get to play soccer, stay up late and eat food."
Several Upper Perkiomen High School alumna not only play to honor Parvin, but also one of their fellow classmates, Lori Moll, who passed away in 1998 from cancer at the age of 23. The friends created the team Old School Valley Kickers and have participated in the event for the past six years.
"We play to spend time with old teammates and friends, and although playing soccer at 3 a.m. sounds crazy, it's fun! We are already looking forward to next year," explained Jason Gray, 39, of East Greenville.
Aiden Gerrits, 10, of East Greenville, who played his first year with the Valley Cobras, understood the importance of the event and the need to "raise money for cancer because of a little girl." Gerrits also liked the idea of camping out and being with his friends at SoccerFest as well as playing soccer with other kids older and younger than himself on Friday night. He described the event as "really cool." Gerrits' 4-year-old sister Sidney also remarked, "I can't wait until I'm old enough to play in SoccerFest."
Each year brings more participants and more money raised for cancer research, which is the overall goal of the Parvin family and the Sarah Parvin Foundation. For more information, visit www.sarahparvinfoundation.org.