Soccer for a Cause, a unique effort utilizing professional soccer to generate financial support for the special-needs community, made good on its pledge and this evening unveiled a check for $662,559 during halftime of the San Antonio Scorpions’ North American Soccer League (NASL) match with the New York Cosmos.
"The Scorpions and their newly opened stadium home, Toyota Field, are dedicated to producing net profits to help non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland meet its operating expenses as well as expand programs and services for those with special needs,” said philanthropist Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation. “Tonight’s check presentation reflects a very successful 2013 season for the Scorpions and Toyota Field, and we cannot say thank-you enough to our phenomenal fans and sponsors for their tremendous support.
“We’ve said from the launch of Soccer for a Cause that its purpose would be to produce revenue for the special-needs community, and I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that we’ve kept that promise. I’m also delighted that the check presentation occurred in front of our devoted fans and in the presence of the New York Cosmos, one of the iconic franchises in all of professional soccer.”
Hartman, who as owner of the Scorpions does not benefit financially from the team or stadium, said the almost-$700,000 grand total includes $20,000 to help Oklahoma City tornado victims (following a summer friendly match with Oklahoma City FC) and $42,974 raised in a Scorpions special event for WINGS (Women Involved in Nurturing, Giving, Sharing), an organization that assists breast-cancer patients.
“The grand total will surely go higher because net profits from the Scorpions-vs.-Cosmos match and from the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex, with its 13 first-class fields for league and tournament play, aren’t included,” Hartman noted. “When all is said and done, we believe Soccer for a Cause will have been the spark for approximately $1 million in benefits to the special-needs community and other worthy causes. And keep in mind, this is just the first year of operation for Toyota Field. We expect the cumulative total to really grow as years go by.”
In addition to benefitting Morgan’s Wonderland, Soccer for a Cause assists Monarch Academy, a school next door to the theme park that concentrates on equipping students with special needs with the knowledge and skills that will help them become productive adults. The school creates an individualized instructional plan for each student, based on the student’s abilities and needs.
Hartman again credited his 20-year-old daughter, Morgan, for being the catalyst that resulted in Morgan’s Wonderland and so much more.
“Morgan is the young lady responsible for pro soccer in San Antonio,” Hartman said. “Her positive outlook in dealing with physical and cognitive challenges inspired so many in the community that it led to the opening in 2010 of Morgan’s Wonderland, the world’s first theme park designed with special-needs individuals in mind but built for everyone to enjoy.
“Shortly thereafter came Soccer for a Cause, a grassroots effort to establish pro soccer in San Antonio, and ultimately the creation of the Scorpions franchise and the construction of multi-purpose Toyota Field, which can be expanded from its current 8,000 seats to 18,000. Soccer for a Cause marks the first time a professional sports team has been organized solely to benefit a non-profit cause helping those with special needs.”
Hartman sold his homebuilding business in 2005 to devote – along with wife Maggie – time, vision and energy to philanthropic pursuits. They began with Morgan’s Wonderland so people of all ages with and without disabilities could come together in a safe, totally wheelchair-accessible theme park for fun and understanding. Now wrapping up its fourth year, Morgan’s Wonderland features more than 25 attractions including rides, playscapes and gardens spread out over 25 acres in what once was a limestone quarry. The park admits anyone with a cognitive or physical special need free of charge.
On Aug. 28, 2012, global automaker Toyota announced its presenting sponsorship of Toyota Field. In addition to Scorpions soccer, Toyota Field will host concerts, community activities and special events. It’s located adjacent to Morgan’s Wonderland at the intersection of Wurzbach Parkway and Thousand Oaks Drive just west of IH 35 in Northeast San Antonio.
More information about the San Antonio Scorpions FC is available at www.SAScorpions.com, http://www.Facebook.com/SanAntonioScorpions or http://www.Twitter.com/SAScorpions. Additional Morgan’s Wonderland information is located at www.MorgansWonderland.com or by calling (210) 495-5888. Information about Toyota Field is available at www.ToyotaField.com, and more about Monarch Academy can be found at www.MonarchAcademy.net.
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