When Houston Dynamo defender/midfielder Geoff Cameron suffered a knee ligament rupture in April 2010, the burgeoning star was faced with a lengthy rehabilitation stint. It was a difficult time made easier by the support of family and friends. With their help, Cameron recovered to return in August of that year – well ahead of schedule.
That experience spurred Cameron – named MLS W.O.R.K.S. Humanitarian of the Month for October – to found the 20 for 20 campaign. The name is a play on his number, 20, and his goal to raise $20,000 for the Houston Ronald McDonald House and Fisher House. Houston Ronald McDonald House provides housing and financial support to the families of children recovering from illness or surgery, while Fisher House does the same for the families of military veterans.
“Being close to your family members makes the time go by faster,” Cameron told MLSsoccer.com on Monday. “It makes the all-around rehab, getting better, go quicker. In my opinion you want to be around your loved ones when you’re recovering; that’s a big deal. Especially for kids: They deserve to have their family around them, as well as our wounded soldiers. They deserve the campaign.”
Cameron approached the Dynamo with his idea, and, for senior vice president Rocky Harris, it was a no-brainer to help his player with what would become 20 for 20.
“When we talked to Geoff about it, he mentioned his injury and what really got him through it was his family support,” Harris said. “There are people with chronic diseases who are dying in the hospital, and they don’t have their family close by, and that’s something Geoff said was important.”
The campaign has some of Cameron’s flair. In addition to a ticket package to Houston’s September 17 match with the San Jose Earthquakes – according to Harris, 600 were purchased – Cameron is holding an online auction for signed memorabilia that ends October 7 and a tournament for one of his favorite pastimes on October 8: EA Sports’ FIFA 12 (register now).
“What I’ve seen is if you let the players do what they’re interested in, what they care about, and have events they’d go to on their own, then it’s authentic and doesn’t come off as manufactured,” Harris said. “I’ve worked in the NFL where you had to pay guys for their appearances. Our guys, including Geoff, just seem to enjoy doing it because they think it’s a part of their duty as a professional athlete.”
“I’m honored,” Cameron said of the Humanitarian of the Month honors. “Honestly, I’m just trying to do something good for the community, and something that needs to be brought to people’s attention is the needs of the Fisher House and Ronald McDonald House.”
According to Harris, the campaign has raised more than $18,000. With this week’s auction and FIFA 12 event, they will likely surpass their goal of $20,000.
Darrell Lovell covers the Houston Dynamo for MLSsoccer.com.