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Wilton Hosts Nick Madaras Memorial Day Soccer Benefit After Parade

Kick for Nick, a Wilton-based charity, honors Nick Madaras, an avid soccer player, coach and referee who was killed in Iraq on Sept. 3, 2006, at the age of 19. A Memorial Day soccer tournament in Wilton will benefit the charity. Photo Credit: Contributed
Iraqi children receive donated soccer balls sent by Kick for Nick to U.S. troops. Photo Credit: Contributed

WILTON, Conn. -- Olympian Kristine Lilly returns to her hometown of Wilton on Monday to take part in the seventh annual Nick Madaras Memorial Day Challenge, a soccer tournament to benefit a charity honoring a fallen Wilton soldier. 

The round-robin soccer tournament will feature Lilly playing with the Ancient Warriors, a Wilton men’s team that plays in the over-40 division of a statewide soccer league; coaches from Soccer Extreme, a Wilton travel soccer program; and Wilton High School teammates of Madaras, an avid soccer player, coach and referee who was killed in Iraq on Sept. 3, 2006, at the age of 19.

"I am happy I can come back to my hometown and support this wonderful cause," Lilly, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, said in a statement. "I never got the chance to meet Nick, but I have met his father, and I can just imagine what a great man Nick was was. I also look forward to getting back on the soccer field and having some fun playing a game that I love.”

The tournament starts on the Kristine Lilly Field in Wilton at 11:30 a.m., immediately after the town’s Memorial Day parade. 

All proceeds from food and drink sales will be donated to Kick For Nick, and a raffle will be held. Attendees are asked to bring soccer balls to place in the Kick For Nick ball collection soccer net. To learn more or to donate online, visit the group's website

Kick For Nick is a charity that collects soccer balls and distributes them to children all over the world. Inspired by his actions while home on leave during July 2006 – he rounded up soccer balls to take back to Iraqi children – Kick For Nick has become a symbol of friendship and camaraderie among cultures. To date, more than 39,000 soccer balls have come in from 46 states. Nick’s name –  “PFC Nick Madaras” – has been handwritten on each ball.  

“The beautiful game brings us all back together from around the country for a day of pure fun,” said 1st Lt. Tom Thresher, currently stationed in Afghanistan. “But Memorial Day isn't just a day of barbecues and no school, it really means something. And to the town of Wilton it should mean a great deal because one of its soccer greats was killed in the service of our nation, probably before some of the young kids in the crowd were even born. Enjoy the day ... but take a moment to realize why we have that day.”

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