Nicolai has taken up a new cause. His latest campaign kicked off this morning. Included here is the e-mail that he hopes will find its way across the country.
At age thirteen, Nicolai Calabria, born with one leg, became the first person to summit 19,341 foot Mount Kilimanjaro on crutches. In so doing, he raised more than $100,000 for the Free Wheel Chair Mission and was the subject of an award winning short documentary film, Nico’s Challenge. He returned to Tanzania the following year to assist in distribution of wheelchairs to the impoverished disabled of that country. He has been a guest on the Ellen DeGeneres show, NPR’s All Things Considered and the recipient of numerous awards for his charitable work.
Since he was five years old Nicolai has used forearm crutches to play soccer with able bodied players. When he learned of the American Amputee Soccer Association at age nine he set his sights on playing for the US team one day. Now seventeen, Nicolai has realized that dream. He has become the youngest member of the US National Amputee Soccer team and scored a goal in his debut international match to help secure a 2-1 victory over Mexico.
Amputee soccer is played on a 3/4 size field with seven players to a side. Field players are permitted to use crutches and may play the ball with only one leg. Keepers defend a 7×16 foot goal and may field the ball with only one arm. The sport was invented by Don Bennett of Seattle in 1980 and is currently played in 29 countries. This year’s World Cup will be held in Russia among the top twelve qualifying teams.
Members of the US team are scattered across the country. Air travel and lodging is required for every match or exhibition which can easily exceed $10K per event. Teams from other countries routinely train together giving them an advantage over the US which has never been able to afford that option.
Nicolai is asking for your support as he seeks to raise $250,000 for the American Amputee Soccer Association. We can meet this goal if every soccer player in the United States contributes just 16 cents. Your tax deductible donation will support the team as it represents our country around the world and help expand the sport within the United States. Wounded warriors, accident survivors, and those battling disease or born with differences will all benefit from your generosity as we expand their opportunity to remain or become athletes.
When a person with a disability watches an amputee soccer match, their view of what is possible is forever expanded. When an able bodied person watches, they will never forget the display of courage and determination defined by a refusal to accept perceived limitations. All will enjoy the beautiful game at its most beautiful.
Are you willing to take 5 minutes from your day to make a donation in any amount to this very worthy cause? Of equal importance, will you help Nicolai’s appeal reach every soccer player in the United States?
Donations can be made at the AASA website or by check to:
American Amputee Soccer Association
1033 Creekside Drive
Wilmington, Delaware 19804
Tax ID# 510402649
Thank you for your support and we hope you will follow the US team on its quest for the World Cup.