Cascadian football fans have performed some very time consuming acts and events to raise money for those less fortunate than themselves.
The former President of the Vancouver Southsiders, John Knox, regarded charitable works as so important that he quit his leadership role to supervise that group’s good works.
Last night it was time for the great and the good to step up.
Vancouver Whitecaps President Bob Lenarduzzi is one of the most respected and loved executives in Cascadian football. The man who ‘marked the great Oleg Blokhin out of the match‘ in the 1986 World Cup has been one of the constants in the Caps’ somewhat turbulent transformation from the early heady days through USL to MLS.
Last night, Lenarduzzi showed his other side by sleeping out to raise money and awareness for homeless young people at the Covenant House facility.
Furthermore, his high profile status has encouraged others to participate including his own son Ryan, 15 other executives as well as the Vancouver Area Soccer Referees Association (VASRA).
Lenarduzzi however recognised that his sacrifice was nothing compared to the hazards endured by those less fortunate:
“I’m a little bit anxious I must admit. But what my son and I are doing, really does pale in comparison when you consider that the homeless youth are doing this on a nightly basis. That really does sadden me and I look forward to providing a bit more profile and certainly generating some funds. VASRA has been supporting by writing a check for $200 towards the Covenant Host.”
In the lowly surroundings under a garage facing an alley in downtown Vancouver, Lenarduzzi endured temperatures of just two degrees above freezing.
The awareness event began at 7pm when the 16 people doing the ‘Sleep Out’ had dinner inside the Covenant House with the youths, concluding with a tour of the facilities.
Close to 10pm, with temperatures hovering around the 4 degrees mark, they exited the building and moved to the garage area with the doors open.
Lenarduzzi brought the appropriate attire to fend off the cold:
“I have my big heavy Whitecaps jacket which we wear when we are playing in cold weather. This will be a perfect item for me to hopefully stay warm tonight. As far as sleeping on the cement, it’s cardboard, and a sleeping bag, so it’s a very hard surface.”
Such was Lenarduzzi’s commitment to the cause, that he was even prepared to make peace with the refereeing community, in praising their contribution to the event:
“I’m very indebted. Throughout my years, my playing days and my coaching days, it’s always been a love/hate relationship with the officials. I’ve always respected what they do. Sometimes I’ve disagreed with the calls they make.
Even now, I sit and I’m sometimes critical of the officiating but the game needs officials obviously and we have a great group here in Vancouver so I’m really thankful to VASRA for providing this $200 donation. It’s more than I ever would have expected so thank you very much VASRA.”
Covenant House Vancouver is a crisis center that takes in and helps local homeless youth that have nowhere else to turn. It has a 75% success rate of getting these youth back on their feet and into the community.
By visiting the event page you can help the aptly named Covenant House Sleep Out: Executive Edition help the many youth in the Vancouver community.
Interviews and this photo gallery of the event by Mynor Campos, Prost Amerika Vancouver Correspondent.