CHESTER, PA -- 15 children who are currently battling cancer or who have conquered the disease have paired up with Philadelphia Union soccer players to create custom cleats that they’ll wear before an upcoming game. On Friday, the Los Angeles based artist known as “Kickasso” unveiled the custom kicks to the kids and the players.
Earlier this season, the same kids met with the Union players, and together, they designed a pair of cleats.
Those designs were then sent to Kickasso, who is famous for painting custom shoes for some big-name pro athletes. Kickasso listed some of his clients, “Odell Beckham Jr., Von Miller, Ezekiel Elliott, Dez Bryant, Terrence Williams…a lot of guys!” He’s currently working with professional athletes in the NFL, NBA, and now the MLS.
Kickasso was also commissioned by the National Football League for the “My Cause My Cleats” campaign that saw players able to wear custom cleats to support the charity of their choice. The Union are the first and only MLS team to undertake this project alongside Kickasso.
One of the kids who designed a soccer cleat was Nicholas Stickel, also known as “Nick the Stick,” by his hospital staff.
Is an extremely brave 6-year-old who paired up with Andre Blake, a goalkeeper for the Union, for this project.
Nick designed Batman and Power Ranger cleats.
Nick’s mom Christine Weideman says her son was diagnosed with Pilomyxoid Astrocytoma five years ago. Weideman explained, “Basically it's brain cancer but Nicholas has it inside his spinal cord.” A surgery last Halloween left nicholas in a wheelchair. Christine says the family has been living at Nemours Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware for the last 10 months.
“He's definitely been struggling emotionally lately and we are getting ready to come home after the hospital for 10 months so it's a huge change. So this is kind of something different that he gets to do and he gets to be happy and everyone kind of makes a big deal about him and his design. I think it's something that makes him really feel special.”
It was also a special day for Union forward Charlie Davies. Davies told a crowd at the Union’s Talen Energy Stadium, “My wife, she dealt with pediatric cancer as a 12-year-old…and last year playing soccer, I found out that I had cancer. That was quite a scare. I was very fortunate that it was caught early and I just had surgery but I’m still able to play the game that I love. Today though…this is about you the kids, who are warriors.”
As each cleat was unveiled by Kickasso, eyes throughout the room lit up with excitement.
Weideman told PHL17 Morning News, “As a mom, there isn't anything I can do to make him better but we can help spread awareness so that we can hopefully help other kids in the future.”
Union players will wear these special cleats in warmups during Philadelphia’s Pediatric Cancer Awareness match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday, September 23. Players will autograph one of the pairs of shoes for each child to take home following that game, while each child will do the same for their accompanying Union player to keep.