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A childhood illness and friendship with an athlete led to fundraising for cancer research


Before the Sounders were a Major League Soccer powerhouse, they were part of a minor league outfit called the USL. They also were in a different building back then, and one of the businesses down the hall from the Sounders office is where Christine O’Connell worked doing graphic design.

As a result, Christine got to know some of the Sounders players, including now-retired Sounders defender Zach Scott. She and Zach became friends, and when Zach decided to retire at the end of the 2016 season, Christine wanted to do something special to celebrate his career. So she designed scarves in honor of Zach to sell at his last match — it’s kind of a soccer tradition called a testimonial match.

The scarves sold out. Zach Scott had family friends at the time whose 10-year-old daughter was fighting brain cancer. So Zach donated the scarf money to Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Christine had a little girl of her own, named Jane. She started following the story of this girl who was battling cancer, who she calls Awesome Avery, on her family blog. It was inspiring.

Christine was right about that — it’s just that she had no idea that somebody would be her.

Listen to the story to hear how Christine's daughter was also stricken with a life-threatening illness, and how Christine decided she needed to do something to raise money for childhood cancer research — with some help from some very special athletes.