As players from the Washington Spirit and Seattle Reign FC took to Maureen Hendricks Field at Maryland SoccerPlex for pregame warm-ups last weekend, a quiet and special moment was taking place inside the Discovery Sports Center.
Seven-year-old Hope Veazey, who recently was diagnosed with leukemia, got to meet her idol, Hope Solo.
The Seattle goalkeeper and Spirit defender Ali Krieger stopped to meet Hope and the other four members of the Veazey family.
Parents Ted and Kristin helped Hope, along with her older sister, Joy, and younger sister, Peace, don personalized Spirit jerseys and take pictures with their U.S. national team and NWSL heroes.
“It was a huge opportunity,” Ted Veazey said. “She’s over the moon still about meeting Hope, and Ali as well. It was very cool.”
“The whole reason we started this team was to make a difference in the lives of young girls,” Spirit general manager Chris Hummer said. “I can’t see a more pure example of how we can do that than by helping Hope and her family through this.”
It wasn’t the first time Solo was introduced to someone who idolized her, “but this one’s special,” Solo told a reporter afterward. “Maybe she touched me in a certain way, maybe (because) her name was Hope, maybe it was just a sweet family with three sweet kids. It was very touching.”
Joy, 10, a budding midfielder/defender who plays for the Ashburn Explosion takes part in the Northern Virginia ODP camps, couldn’t believe she had the chance to meet Krieger, her favorite player. Four-year-old Peace is still learning the game but is certainly planning to play alongside her older siblings.
“She may be the best, but who knows,” said Ted.
Off the field, little Hope is making strides. The family just received the results from her latest bone marrow check, and doctors were happy with the first four-week round of chemotherapy.
“It’s still a month into her diagnosis, and she’s seven,” Ted said. “She’s doing really well with it, she’s accepting the length of treatment, the fact that she’s going to lose her hair, which has already started. She’s positive. Still adjusting, and she has her moments, but we’re very lucky, very fortunate.”
On Saturday, the family stuck around for the game, though they left before Diana Matheson’s game-winning goal in Washington’s 1-0 victory as little Hope got a bit tired. But they intend to be back for the Spirit’s season finale on Sunday against Sky Blue FC.
“She wants to go to see the final game,” Hope’s father remarked. “She was that thrilled, not just to meet Hope but to see a soccer game. The atmosphere was so energetic, and she hadn’t really been out at all since the diagnosis until that game. It was great medically for her, great for her spiritually and emotionally. I’m excited that she wants to get back out and do something like that.”