Oct 21, 2013
06:18 AM
Connecticut Today

Foundation Fulfills Late Wilton Soldier’s Plan to Help Iraqi Kids

Foundation Fulfills Late Wilton Soldier’s Plan to Help Iraqi Kids

Peter Casolino

Bill and Shalini Madaras, whose son, Nick Madaras, was killed in Iraq, have been raising money and donations of soccer equipment to send to children in Iraq.

The note came from a mother in Minnesota.

Her twins, for their sixth-birthday celebration, instead of gifts, asked friends to donate soccer balls to the Kick for Nick Foundation, which sends them to children around the world whereever U.S. troops are stationed.

“She wrote this letter and said it was the proudest moment of her life that her kids at that age were thinking like this,” said Bill Madaras, tearing up as he talked about the family foundation set up in memory of their son.

Nick Madaras, an outstanding soccer player at his high school in Wilton, saw children in Iraq playing the game with makeshift equipment, often just a tin can.

He gathered up some soccer balls when he was home on leave to distribute them to the kids near his base in 2006, but the 19-year-old was killed by a roadside bomb before he could make that happen.Almost 40,000 soccer balls later, with contributions coming in from 46 states and more than 500 cities, the Kick for Nick effort is going strong.“Nick wanted to give the balls to the children he saw, that’s how we got started. But it very quickly became obvious with our communication with the military that it was serving a very definite purpose for the soliders themselves. It helped their morale and actually the balls were improving security in the villages,” Madaras said.

For Madaras and his wife, Shalini, the foundation became a platform for getting involved in helping veterans anyway they can.

The third annual Kick for Nick night fundraiser will be held Friday at O’Toole’s Pub, 157 Orange St., from 5 to 9 p.m. O’Toole’s has sponsored numerous fundraisers for the community, but especially around veterans given that its building was once an Army recruiting station.

Shalini Madaras said the event at O’Toole’s will also benefit Habitat for Heroes, a startup run by Habitat for Humanity in Fairfield County, that will construct the first home specifically for a veteran.

Bill Madaras said they want to raise awareness about new programs oriented toward veterans.

“It’s part of our mission to help,” said Shalini.

Habitat for Heroes is based on Habitat’s traditional model where the recipients offer sweat equity as their contribution and help others as the program expands. Shalini said home ownership is a confidence builder for veterans who may find it difficult to access a mortgage through traditional sources or can’t find housing they can afford.

For the full story, visit New Haven Register online.

 

Foundation Fulfills Late Wilton Soldier’s Plan to Help Iraqi Kids

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