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Mrs. Dillon and the Soccer Boys


Mrs. Dillon and the Soccer Boys

How one mom inspired a soccer team to pitch in and join the fight for justice for boys in Ghana.

Constituent Experience Representative Jared Umberger shines a spotlight on the stories of some of our extraordinary supporters.

Kindness matters.

This was a phrase I heard constantly from my mom growing up. She never wasted an opportunity to remind me of those two simple words. And today, her advice has served me well in my role as an IJM Constituent Representative.

After all, it’s my job to connect with donors who give without ever expecting praise for their kindness or generosity. They support IJM because they’re passionate about our mission to protect the poor from violence. I support them because they should know how their kind acts make our work possible.

Mrs. Dillon is just one of these kind constituents I had the pleasure of connecting with.

This past December, we received more than $1,000 from a DIY Christmas ornament fundraiser that 15 boys of the Bishop O’Connell High School soccer team put on during their lunch periods. We normally see very basic donation information—a final number and maybe a nice note or phone call about the event. But this one made me curious.

How did a group of teenage boys come to raise enough money to buy 54 soccer balls and toy packages for children in Ghana? And what made them want to do it in the first place?

The answer: Cindy Dillon.

Cindy Dillon is a supporter of IJM and a mother of one of the soccer players. She heard our CEO Gary Haugen speak a few years ago and shared with me that she was impressed with IJM’s approach of using the law to create real and lasting change in an often harsh and unfair society.

She continued to follow IJM’s work, but it wasn’t until she received our 2019 Holiday Gift Catalog that she saw an opportunity to involve her son and his peers in the fight to end slavery.


After getting the OK from her son, Mrs. Dillon set up a time to speak to her son’s soccer coach about her fundraising idea. And he loved it!

According to Cindy, team captain John Sullivan and the rest of the team’s passion was key to the success of the fundraiser. Although, I think we all know who the true hero of this story is: this power mom!

Though quick to give praise and praise deserved, it was Mrs. Dillon who recognized what a generous gift of $25 could become with the hard work and perseverance of a team like the Bishop O’Connell boys. The team, thanks to Mrs. Dillon’s thoughtfulness, will carry this experience with them of bringing some light to kids that have suffered hardship and pain for most of their lives.

What more could a parent hope for than expanding their children’s compassion for others and learning that kindness matters?

So, here are my parting thoughts: moms know best! Whether it's fundraising ideas or words of wisdom, the IJM moms continue to surprise us with their kindness and passion for our work. For these boys, it’s led them to spread kindness in ways they probably never imagined they could. For you, it could lead you to do the same.

This Mother’s Day, thank your mom for making you a little wiser. And a little kinder.

Feeling inspired? Check out the gift catalog and give the gift of freedom today!

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