Amy Lindsay kept three ideas in mind when deciding in 2004 how she could give back to her community in Omaha, Neb.:
- She had a background in soccer, and the state-of-the-art Morrison Stadium had just opened.
- Her husband had a background in philanthropy.
- Both of them wanted to support cancer research.
As the couple mulled their options with family and friends, someone suggested they partner with David Karnes, a local civic leader known for his efforts to benefit cancer research. Karnes, who also briefly was a U.S. senator in the 1980s, died of cancer himself in 2020.
Lindsay, an agent with NP Dodge Real Estate in Omaha, and her husband met with Karnes and formed a quick bond over their philanthropic interests. The three of them decided to form an annual soccer tournament, known as Kicks for a Cure, and split the proceeds between two cancer research facilities: the Fred and Pamela Cancer Center and the Lynch Comprehensive Cancer Research Center. Each year, the leading physicians at each institution invite Lindsay and her husband to come in and see what they’re working on.
“Let me tell you: It’s incredible, the work they’re doing. The way their work transforms treatment and diagnosis—it’s just absolutely incredible,” Lindsay says.
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As a board member of Kicks for a Cure and the resident soccer expert, Lindsay spends most of her time organizing the annual one-day soccer tournament. Four to eight high school teams and four college teams participate each year. They all raise a minimum of $500, and some have raised as much as $10,000, Lindsay says. The tournament, she adds, is the highlight of Kicks for a Cure’s fundraising efforts, which also include various other events.
“The kids are just as important as the cancer research side of things,” Lindsay says. “We wanted to show them that there are people behind these endeavors and that there’s a lot of work behind the scenes. This lays the groundwork for kids to get involved in philanthropy when they get older.”
In the beginning, she was begging area high schools and colleges to alter their soccer schedules to participate in the tournament. But as the organization has grown in recognition, the situation has changed. “Now we have teams asking us how they can be a part of this,” Lindsay says, adding that many of the kids who play in the tournament come back to volunteer when they get older.
In 2006, its first year as an official organization, Kicks for a Cure raised $100,000. To date, it has raised over $4.1 million for the two cancer research facilities, and annual contributions have grown to $400,000 or more.
Lindsay says Karnes’ death was a particularly difficult loss during a year of tumult due to the pandemic. When she and her husband decided to start Kicks for a Cure, they didn’t know anyone who had been diagnosed with cancer. But in the years since, that’s changed. Most people will at some point know someone with a cancer diagnosis or fight one themselves. It’s a stark reality that drives the mission of Kicks for a Cure, Lindsay says.“There have definitely been ups and downs, and we know there’s no win in sight when it comes to beating cancer,” Lindsay says. “But we believe anything we can do to make a difference is important.”