Major League Soccer has announced the finalists for the 2018 MLS WORKS Community MVP Contest presented by Wells Fargo, which recognizes individuals using soccer to make a difference in their community. The Grand Prize winner, voted on by fans, will be recognized on-field during halftime of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on August 1, and will receive a $25,000 donation for their selected charity.
Throughout June, MLS fans had the opportunity to nominate individuals who are building better communities using soccer. Twenty-three finalists have been chosen, one from each MLS club. Finalists were selected for making a positive impact in one of the following areas:
- Social issues focusing on inclusion, diversity and equality.
- Health issues affecting men, women or children.
- Community service for a local, national or international charitable organization.
Representing the Houston Dynamo is Oswaldo Gallegos. Gallegos is Director of Soccer for SpringSpirit, located in Northwest Houston. The soccer program he founded started with a dream to provide access to competitive soccer to low-income, high-risk kids from the same area he grew up in. With humble beginnings of 40 kids, his program has soared to upwards of 400.
Oswaldo has hired five full-time coaches, most of whom were players during the early days of SpringSpirit. He meets daily with his staff to develop programming that promotes healthy and safe play. Oswaldo also recruits volunteers, including the parents of players, to create a stronger family bond through soccer. Oswaldo will tell you his life mission is to teach kids what positive traits they can develop to better their lives. He not only coaches on the field, but coaches youth through the hardships that come in an at-risk area.
“MLS fans have always shared our League’s commitment to giving back and serving their communities,” said JoAnn Neale, MLS Chief Administrative & Social Responsibility Officer. “With our partners at Wells Fargo, we believe the Community MVP program is a great way to salute many of the outstanding individuals who continue to make positive impacts across the U.S. and Canada through the sport of soccer.”
Each Community MVP finalist will receive two tickets to a 2018 MLS regular season match in their local market, a trip to MLS All-Star week in Atlanta, and an additional $1,000 donation from Wells Fargo to the nonprofit of their choice, among other prizes.
Fans are encouraged to vote for the Grand Prize winner by visiting the Community MVPContest site (www.MLSsoccer.com/CommunityMVP) and using the vote and Tweet buttons to cast their vote.
“In the past six years, MLS WORKS Community MVP winners have made a real difference to people in their communities, for example: improving foster care experiences, developing a scholarship program, and offering wellness activities for indigenous youth,” said Gary Korotzer, Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing & Brand Strategy for Wells Fargo. “This program is an important example of how Wells Fargo is recommitting to our customers and the communities we serve. We are giving $1 million per day to non-profits around the country and we couldn’t be prouder to partner with MLS WORKS to reward the organizations represented by these Community MVPs.”