I was driving on California Interstate 101 in October of 2007 when my phone rang. Shocked by the reception of a Jefferson Award some weeks earlier, what I heard on the phone seemed impossible. Congressman Tom Lantos wanted to honor me with a Congressional Citation. I will be forever grateful to all of those who continue to make E-Soccer accessible to people around the world, and especially to Congressman Tom Lantos whose words continue to inspire me.
Today I took time to reread his words and remind myself about the importance of E-Soccer (E-Soccer has now expanded into E-Sports). I hope everyone involved with E-Soccer will take the opportunity to refresh their vision for our program by reading the inspiring words of Congressman Tom Lantos.
Madam Speaker, I wish to recognize the achievements of a very special man within my home district in California. Russell Ewell, who has recently been honored with a Jefferson Award, is much deserving of the accolade, which spotlights outstanding public service.
Mr. Ewell brought the community E-Soccer, a unique athletic outreach program affiliated with the Hope Technology School, where his wife is the Executive Director. The unqualified success of E-Soccer in bringing together typical and special needs children of all ages on a soccer field is a testament to Russ Ewell’s visionary concept.
Children are encouraged and enabled to develop skills, confidence and self-esteem through the sport of soccer. They also make lasting friendships. This wonderful program serves over 250 children on Saturday mornings in communities throughout the Bay Area. It is free and benefits from an all-volunteer staff. Showcasing the growing scope of E-Soccer is the fact that a team of nine coaches from the program recently visited Nairobi, Kenya, to train volunteers there on how to establish their own E-Soccer activities. There are plans for further outreach projects in other countries.
Madam Speaker, Russell Ewell established the E-Soccer program in April 2000 specifically for children with special needs in Foster City. His inspiration came from his two sons with special needs. Their younger sister, Jadyn, is not a special needs child. Russ wanted Jonathan, who has Down Syndrome, and Jordan, who is autistic, to be able to interact with typical children, benefiting from the athletic coordination practiced in soccer. He also wanted families with special needs children to have an opportunity to enjoy an athletic experience that is both positive and uplifting. To that end, he worked with soccer coaches, special needs educators and physical therapists on developing a program like no other; a sports program that doesn’t isolate typical and special needs children, but integrates them seamlessly into group activities. Both communities benefit from the interaction. Russ has seen that success in his own children as well as the many families who have participated. What began with 5 children has grown into a blossoming effort with 250 young soccer players.
Madam Speaker, it is with great pride and appreciation that I bring Russell Ewell’s E-Soccer program to the attention of my colleagues in the House of Representatives. He has created a shining example of how one man’s idea can alter the lives of many for the better.