The men’s soccer team took to the field in gold shoelaces Sunday to raise awareness and funds to combat childhood cancer.

The game was the first time the Hoyas have participated in Lace-Up 4 Pediatric Cancer, a nationwide campaign sponsored by the Go4theGoal Foundation. The organization, which is dedicated to fighting childhood cancer, has donated $270,000 to Jeffrey Toretsky, a researcher in Georgetown’s Lombardi Cancer Center.

Toretsky has successfully targeted a protein that is only present in the cells of Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare cancer that occurs most frequently in teenagers and young adults. Toretsky is on the path to developing a drug with minimal side effects, according to Carol Pribulka, associate director of development at Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Toretsky’s discovery is really critical for Ewing’s sarcoma,” Pribulka said. “It’s a long road to discover a drug. It’s 20 years from bench to marketplace and [Go4theGoal’s] funding has really helped him along the way.”

All ticket sale proceeds from Sunday’s game were donated to Go4theGoal. In honor of their partnership, the men’s soccer team also visited Toretsky’s lab in August.

Head Coach Brian Wiese said his players were inspired after seeing the lab firsthand.

“It’s eye-opening for the guys to see this was going on within a stone’s throw of where they play,” Wiesesaid. “They were blown away by the dedication, passion and commitment for what these guys do.”

For Beth and Richard Stefanacci, the founders of Go4theGoal, this fundraising and advocacy work has a personal meaning. They founded the organization in 2007 after their son Richard died from Ewing’s sarcoma.

“Our son would’ve been 20 on September 27. He could’ve been any one of these kids,” RichardStefanacci said while watching Georgetown play the University of Pennsylvania Sunday.

Stefanacci said he believes in the power of events like Lace-Up 4 Pediatric Cancer to make a difference in cancer research.

“In the long run, someone wearing laces today goes to med school and goes into pediatric oncology. We’re planting the seeds for years and years from now,” he said.

Go4theGoal also gives to the Children’s Cancer Foundation Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic atMedStar Georgetown University Hospital. During the holiday season, a member of the Go4theGoalboard will visit the clinic and distribute gift bags to the children.

“We’re very lucky and fortunate that the foundation approached us to help our patients,” said Mary Lane, a clinical social worker in pediatric hematology oncology at MedStar. “They produce a lot of holiday joy.”

The football and women’s soccer teams will also participate in Lace-Up 4 Pediatric Cancer later this year. Toretsky said he hopes the swimming and diving team will also find a way to get involved. The researcher said he swims at the same time as swim team practice in the mornings.

“Then they’d swim next to me and say ‘that’s the guy whose research we’re supporting,’” he said.

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