SBD/January 8, 2013/People and Pop Culture

U.S. Soccer Stars Hold Special Event For Children, Families Of Newtown, Conn.

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Landon Donovan and other soccer stars signed more than 1,000 autographs
Nearly 50 U.S. soccer stars yesterday traveled to the Newtown Youth Academy Sports & Fitness Center in Connecticut to spend time with the children and parents affected by last month's tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the event "was a grand success," according to Jeff Jacobs of the HARTFORD COURANT. The players signed autographs for "more than 1,000 Newtown kids and their families over two sessions." ESPN's "Outside The Lines" host BOB LEY was the master of ceremonies for an event that was "one of the greatest collections of American soccer players ever assembled in one place." The idea "started" with MLS Dynamo President CHRIS CANETTI and initially the plan was "to hold a clinic." He called up "a number of his Dynamo players about coming to Newtown." Canetti: "They all said the same thing. Yes, yes, yes." After looking into it more, Canetti and others "realized a clinic was not going to impact enough people." Canetti said, "Word kind of trickled out on social media that it was happening. One thing led to another that led to another. ALEXI LALAS called me, MIA HAMM, KRISTINE LILLY, they said they wanted to help. We said come on down" (HARTFORD COURANT, 1/8). USA TODAY's Kelly Whiteside noted the line for Hamm's autograph "stretched the longest, from sideline to sideline, even though she hasn't played since retiring after the 2004 Olympics." Hamm "put her arms around hundreds of small shoulders." She said, "I think we're just trying to put some smiles on some kids' faces" (USATODAY.com, 1/7).

CHARITY STRIPE: UConn's Sandy Hook School Memorial Scholarship Fund received a gift of $80,120 from the Orange Bowl Committee last night. The donation “represents $1 for every fan in attendance” at last night’s BCS Championship game. Donations and pledges “totaling more than $720,000” had already been made to the fund (STAMFORD ADVOCATE, 1/8).
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