by Tom Emery
CARLINVILLE, IL – A small college in central Illinois will be the site of the world’s longest soccer game April 10-13, an event that will raise money for pediatric cancer.
Blackburn College in Carlinville, 45 miles south of Springfield, will host a Guinness World Record attempt for the world’s longest soccer game next week. The event will last 76 hours, beginning at 1 p.m. on April 10 and concluding at 5 p.m. on April 13. The game at Blackburn will smash the old record of 72 hours, currently held by a Swedish group.
Organizers hope the game will raise $100,000 for research on pediatric cancer at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
More than 3,000 children in the United States each year are diagnosed with malignant brain tumors, the most common solid tumor among children. Aggressive surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy are the usual courses of treatment, which often leave patients with severe handicaps, learning disabilities, and vision or hearing loss. Pediatric brain tumor patients have a low rate of survival.
The fifteen-month-old son of Blackburn head men’s soccer coach Rob Steinkuehler was diagnosed with a brain tumor last June. Joshua Hellums of Bethalto, whose son is a freshman soccer player at Blackburn, was inspired to organize the event after witnessing the compassion and support of the team for the Steinkuehlers.
“I didn’t know if we would even be able to have a coach, because cancer affects families so severely,” said Hellums. “But I saw as the season went along that Rob had brought in a very good group of young men, who bonded well as a family. The players did some grassroots fundraising, and I began to realize that maybe I could bring our world record players in, to help raise awareness for pediatric cancer.”
Hellums will play in the game, along with amateur athletes from the surrounding St. Louis area, who range in age from 18-67. Participants are coming from as far away as Kansas City and Springfield, Mo. Many Blackburn players will also take part in the game.
The marathon will be nothing new to the St. Louis-area players. Starting in October 2007, the group has organized four world record baseball games, the most recent lasting 62 hours and 32 minutes. In March 2012, they played the world’s longest basketball game, going for 112 hours and 13 seconds. Their benefits have raised over $500,000 for a variety of causes.
Rosters for the soccer game will be limited to 18 men, and players will be unable to leave the general field area. When not in the game, players will nap and eat. Portable lights are being brought in for night play.
Hellums said that the Blackburn student body and Carlinville businesses are enthusiastically supporting the upcoming game. “We wanted to make this a community event, and it’s really coming together,” he remarked. “People are really getting behind it.
“I came up with a saying for this event,” continued Hellums. “Seventy-six hours, thirty-six players, two goals, one mission. We have two goals, which are to raise money for pediatric cancer and break a world record. But we have one mission, and that’s to find a cure.”
For more information, contact Hellums at 314-565-8363 or www.worldrecordsoccergame.com.
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