Sporting hot-pink knee-high soccer socks, Mia Baldinger fired a shot into Cold Spring Harbor’s net Sunday afternoon to score the winning goal for her team, the Massapequa Fury.
But Mia, 9, and her teammates were also working toward a loftier goal.
“We’re raising money for breast cancer awareness,” said Mia, of Massapequa, pointing to the pink ribbon design on her socks.
All of Mia’s teammates and many of the roughly 5,000 boys and girls competing in the 25th annual Northport Cow Harbor United Soccer Club’s Columbus Weekend Tournament wore the pink socks. Each pair represented a donation to the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund, founded by Carol Baldwin, mother of the famous acting brothers, in the 1990s along with some friends after she beat breast cancer.
“We’ve been at this for more than 15 years,” said Billy Baldwin, 50, a Massapequa native who sits on the charity’s board of directors along with his brother Alec. Carol Baldwin, 84, serves as chairwoman.
To date, the nonprofit has awarded more than $4 million in grants to medical researchers, including some at Stony Brook University Medical Center, where it also operates the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center.
Fellow board member Fritz Garrecht was watching his children play soccer for Northport when he came up with the idea of using the soccer tournament, which is dubbed the largest in the Northeast, to raise awareness and funds for breast cancer research. Over the years, he has seen mothers on his son’s team battle breast cancer, and thought it was time the soccer community came together for their sake.
“The only icon to come out of American soccer is the soccer mom … and 1 out of 9, statistically, will face breast cancer at some point in their lives,” Garrecht, 56, said.
Knowing that his own three daughters faced that threat also motivated Garrecht, who brought his plan to the soccer club’s directors last year. During the 2012 tournament, the club sold 1,500 pairs of socks and raised more than $30,000, a figure Garrecht expected to exceed this year.
“It’s a great partnership,” Baldwin said. “It’s a great way to raise awareness in the minds of young kids … and any time you have over 350 teams running around soccer fields, there’s a great opportunity to raise money.”
Although the “Backdraft” star could not attend the tournament, he did record a YouTube video to show his support for the effort and said he plans to travel to Long Island at a later date to attend the check presentation.
Some members of the New York Red Bulls and the New York Cosmos professional soccer teams stopped by Northport High School during the weekend to lend their efforts. On Sunday, Cosmos starters Diomar Diaz and Paulo Mendes posed for photos and signed autographs in exchange for donations to the Breast Cancer Fund.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is very important,” Mendes, 23, said. “There’s a lot of kids out here and it’s inspiring them to do good things.”
The pink-legged players, some of whom came from as far as Canada, could be spotted playing on fields throughout Northport, Huntington, Huntington Station and Greenlawn.
“The seeds have been planted,” Garrecht said. “They’ll remember this and somewhere down the line they’ll get involved.”
He added, “There’s so much more that you can do with an army than alone.”
Watch Baldwin's video message: