Cascades host fundraiser, help with charity event

Members of the Cascades men's and women's soccer teams participated in the Abbotsford Gutsy Walk for Crohn's and Colitis on Sunday at Mill Lake Park.

Members of the Cascades men’s and women’s soccer teams participated in the Abbotsford Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis on Sunday at Mill Lake Park. (photo courtesy Bas Stevens/MonoPod Photography)

The busiest non-competition weekend of the year for the University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team turned out to be a smashing success.

On Saturday, June 4, the Cascades held their annual fundraising dinner at The Rancho in Abbotsford. The event drew a crowd of 180, comprised of program sponsors and family members of Cascades student-athletes.

Cascades men's soccer alum Trevor O'Neill (right) was the master of ceremonies at the UFV men's soccer fundraising dinner on Saturday.

Cascades men’s soccer alum Trevor O’Neill (right) was the master of ceremonies at the UFV men’s soccer fundraising dinner on Saturday.

The next morning, head coach Tom Lowndes’s squad joined forces with members of the UFV women’s soccer team for the Abbotsford Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis. It was the third straight year they’d been involved in the event in support of teammate James Najman.

Najman, a forward who is heading into his fifth year with the Cascades, was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 11 and overcame long odds to play university soccer. He has been active in raising funds to help find a cure for inflammatory bowel diseases, and in 2014, he served as honourary chair of the Abbotsford Gutsy Walk.

The UFV soccer teams supported Najman’s efforts on Sunday by participating in the walk at Mill Lake Park, helping with event set-up and tear-down, and by soliciting donations to the cause totaling $695. This year’s Abbotsford Gutsy Walk raised nearly $20,000 according to the event webpage. To donate, visit gutsywalk.ca.

Lowndes said he was pleased to see his team step up and participate in both the fundraising dinner and the charity event.

“The banquet was a good chance to connect with the families of our players, and get to know them on a different level than we normally get the chance to,” he said. “And the Gutsy Walk is a charity close to our hearts because of James. It’s a good event for us to get involved in our community.”

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