Compassion International Is Determined to Feed and Care for 70,000 Vulnerable Children at a Time of Need
June 28, 2021
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The Summer Olympics in Tokyo kick off in a matter of weeks—and Alyssa Naeher, the number-one goalkeeper for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, is expected to be the starting goalie for the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team as it goes up against its global rivals. Last week, Naeher was officially named to the 2021 Olympic roster—one of only 18 players in women’s soccer to achieve the honor. This will be her second Olympics roster appearance after Rio in 2016.
Naeher, a standout pro player with the Chicago Red Stars, was starting goalie for the 2019 World Cup-winning team. In addition to all of that, she has another important role: She is part of the distinguished effort by Compassion International and its Fill the Stadium (FtS) initiative to provide essential food, medical care, and support to children living in extreme poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Other top athletes from other sports are part of this effort, too.
“There are kids in crisis all around the world,” said Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, CEO of Compassion International. “These children aren’t dying of COVID-19. They’re dying of starvation.”
Mellado recruited a team of pro athletes and leaders—including Naeher—to help the Fill the Stadium initiative of saving 70,000 children in crisis in the developing world. To date, they’ve raised well over $28 million for some 57,500 children and their families who are living in extreme poverty.
But they haven’t “filled” the stadium yet. They must reach all 70,000 children in crisis.
Said Naeher of this extraordinary effort, “There’s a lot of people hurting right now, a lot of extra people needing help at an extreme time. When I hear the number 70,000—it’s a big number. For me, I compare that to a specific event of playing the World Cup final in Lyonnais in 2019 in a sold-out stadium. It was energetic. It was loud. And it was an experience people chose.
“Now, we can reinsert Compassion International and children into that environment,” she added. “I see the visual in my head. Since 70,000 kids worldwide can benefit from this project and live a better life because of our help, I’m challenging youth soccer clubs and others to help ‘fill a seat’ in the stadium for a great cause.”
Alyssa Naeher was named to the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team roster for the 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio, Brazil, in which they placed fifth. Since then, she’s become the team’s number-one goalkeeper. On July 1, 2021, and July 5, 2021 in East Hartford, Conn.—her home state—Naeher will be playing in exhibition games as she and the team do final tune-ups ahead of the Olympic games in Tokyo (which will be quite a bit different than other Olympics, given the pandemic; for instance, organizers have set a limit of 50 percent capacity for each Olympic venue, and all fans in attendance must be Japanese residents and must be masked).
Along with Alyssa Naeher, those holding co-leadership roles in Fill the Stadium’s pioneering efforts are Nick Foles, professional football MVP quarterback; Adam Engel of the Chicago White Sox; Sam Burns, PGA TOUR golfer; Nick Ahmed of the Arizona Diamondbacks; Jordy Nelson, former professional wide receiver; Carson Palmer, former professional quarterback; Devin and Jason McCourty, defensive backs of New England; Nate Solder of the New York Giants; Jaccob Slavin of the Carolina Hurricanes; Brock Huard, FOX sports broadcaster and former professional quarterback; and many others. Steve Stenstrom, president of Pro Athletes Outreach—and a former NFL quarterback himself—is also playing a lead role in this team effort.
In the COVID-19 era, “We have all experienced the reality of empty stadiums,” says the Fill the Stadium team. “The average NFL stadium holds 70,000 seats. We need to reach that many kids. That’s why this effort so desperately needs a caring, prayerful, and thoughtful community to join together in this critical relief.”
Founded in 1952,Compassion International is a Christian child development organization that works to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name. Compassion revolutionized the fight against global poverty by working exclusively with the Church to lift children out of spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty. Compassion partners with more than 8,000 churches in 25 countries to deliver its holistic child development program to over 2 million babies, children and young adults. Its child sponsorship program has been validated through independent, empirical research.
To interview Alyssa Naeher; Jimmy Mellado, president and CEO of Compassion International; or another Fill the Stadium spokesperson, contact Hamilton Strategies, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.