It seems unlikely that a soccer program in Omaha would be tied to a volunteer outreach in Ethiopia that restores eyesight for some of the residents, but it is.
The Evolution Soccer program was founded seven years ago by former professional player Chris Brunt and his wife.
There are now about 400 kids in the program and the cost can range from $80 per player to $1000 for select players. For some families it's just too much money and with that in mind coaches have raised money to fund scholarships. In some cases it comes out of the coach's pocket.
"My thing is from my growing up and how I was raised and not having much," explained Brunt in an interview with WOWT 6 News. "We always find a way for these kids to be able to play if they want to be a part of our program, and I have paid out of my own pocket to do those things for these kids to make it happen for them."
Jessica Feilmeier is a volunteer coach with Evolution and she also travels to Ethiopia every year with her husband Michael who is an ophthalmologist. In about a week's time, he and other doctors perform sight restoring surgeries on over 900 people.
Jessica also gives soccer balls to kids and schools and realized the fund raising arm for their work in Ethiopia would benefit Evolution Soccer and it's efforts to provide scholarships.
"We met and discussed how we could put two great entities together," she said. "We started soccer for sight. It's allowing us to make sure Omaha's youth sees a future in soccer here domestically and then it's giving us an opportunity to cure blindness abroad and give soccer balls to patients that we're treating."
Israel Cruz coaches a select team of 6th and 7th graders at the Kroc Center.
"A lot of these kids have grown up on the neighborhood teams," he explained. "But this gives them the opportunity to have something more organized and it's a long term investment for the kids and if they want to grow up and be players this is a really good opportunity."
"If you're interested we would love all the help we can get," said Jessica. "There are kids that still can use the help."
For more information: https://www.evolutionsoccerclub.com/