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Celebrity Soccer Challenge to raise awareness

January 12, 2010 12:06:21 AM PST
Soccer star Mia Hamm and her husband, former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra, visited some sick kids on Monday to help lift their spirits and raise awareness about bone marrow donations.Hamm and Garciaparra signed autographs and chatted with some special fans in the Healing Garden at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. Some of those fans are bone marrow transplant patients who will benefit from the couple's third annual Celebrity Soccer Challenge.

The benefit will raise money and awareness about bone marrow disease, which has become a personal crusade for Hamm, who lost her adopted brother Garrett to the disease in 1997.

"He needed a bone marrow transplant to survive, and obviously, none of us in the family were any genetic match," Hamm said.

She says there's a need to increase the numbers in the bone marrow registry, and the charity soccer challenge gives guests a chance to become potential donors. They have registered more than 200 people at the past two events, but there's a shortage of minorities in the registry. Hamm and Garciaparra are hoping to change that.

"There is no color barrier when you walk through that hospital," Garciaparra said. "Cancer doesn't discriminate one bit."

All proceeds from the soccer event will go to Childrens Hospital and the Mia Hamm Foundation.

The Celebrity Soccer Challenge will be held on Jan. 16 at the Home Depot Center in Carson.