Columbus Crew Champions the Health of Our Families Just Before Winning MLS Cup

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Andy Velazquez and his mom Carolina pose for a picture with Frankie Hejduk and SC Crew Cat from the Columbus Crew. Click on the image to watch the Columbus Crew’s video of last week’s celebration at the Ronald McDonald House.

In a year that many would, perhaps, like to forget, a few bright moments stand out. For our Ronald McDonald House, much of that brightness is the gleam of light shining off the new equipment in our Columbus Crew exercise room. For Columbus, the light comes from the shiny 2020 Major League Soccer Cup that now belongs to The Crew. After the team played its 25th and last season at MAPFRE Stadium, they were able to bring home their second MLS Cup win. That stadium will now be the site of The Crew’s practice facility as the city readies for the opening of the team’s brand new stadium downtown this coming summer.

It’s a great comeback from a major league sports franchise that almost left the city a few years back. A campaign by Crew fans to keep the Crew in Columbus worked. So it seems the Crew players & community have the same perseverance as many of our families. This year has been especially challenging. COVID-19 almost canceling the soccer season. The team managed to get a 9-1-3 record, and tough-out major injuries on some players in September & October, but winning only once in seven games. Then, when the playoffs started, eight players tested positive for COVID-19.

Nevertheless, the Columbus Crew organization was committed to making sure our families stayed as healthy as possible while staying at the House. It had been 5 years since the workout room had originally been decked out in black & gold by The Crew and supplied with new equipment. This past week’s $10,000 renovation was made possible by The Crew, MLS Works (Major League Soccer’s social responsibility platform, & Major League Soccer itself with an assist from MLS community partner, AT&T. Our own craftsmen volunteers were happy to put muscle into the assembly of much of the new equipment just before the revealing of the renewed room.

The reimagined space had a mini-celebration last Thursday – the eve of the eve of the MLS Cup game – with former MLS Cup Champion and MLS Great Frankie Hejduk, along with Crew Cat (Crew SC’s club mascot), onsite to surprise two families staying at our House. The special moment also featured virtual greetings by Crew stars Gyasi Zardes in addition to the team’s Chief Business Officer and EVP, Steve Lyons and a lunch provides by MLS Works for all families in the House. It was a fun celebration for the two families who were able to see the new improved exercise room first, even if none of the players could be there.

It was announced later that day that two more players – a couple of the team’s best – had tested positive for COVID-19 and wouldn’t be able to be in the MLS Cup. And yet, last Saturday, with all those odds against the Crew, they pulled out a 3-0 win over Seattle, the current MLS Cup holders. Before leaving the celebration, Hejduk promised a couple of families that he would bring the cup here to the House! We’re not sure if he was joking, but our families have sunglasses ready to see the sunshine reflected off that cup in person!