Crew Soccer Foundation's Kirk Urso Memorial Fund awards research grant to Nationwide Children's Hospital

Foundation’s largest grant to-date, a $50,000 donation supports cardiac heart defects in youth

Kirk Urso

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COLUMBUS – In partnership with The Children’s Heart Foundation, the Crew Soccer Foundation today announced it has awarded a $50,000 grant from the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund to Dr. Christopher Breuer and Dr. Toshiharu Shinoka of Nationwide Children’s Hospital for their research on the treatment of cardiac heart defects in youth. The grant was the largest in the Foundation’s history and Drs. Breuer and Shinoka were recognized during halftime of tonight's Crew match against Toronto FC held on Kirk Urso Memorial Night at Crew Stadium.

“The Crew Soccer Foundation is proud to grant $50,000 to the dedicated professionals at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in memory of Kirk Urso,” said Crew Soccer Foundation Vice President Jamie Ryan.

Drs. Breuer and Shinoka's tissue engineering research holds incredible potential for repairing birth defects, allowing a child’s own cells to be used to grow new tissue or organs for repair. They were the first in the world to tissue-engineer blood vessels and implant them in human infants for repair of congenital heart defects. Their tissue engineering research is now the first FDA-approved U.S. human trial to investigate the safety and effectiveness of using tissue engineering to repair congenital heart defects. 

“We are grateful for the support of The Children’s Heart Foundation, the Crew Soccer Foundation and the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund,” said Dr. Breuer, co-director of the Tissue Engineering Program at Nationwide Children’s. “Thanks to support from organizations like theirs, we hope to have a variety of tissue engineered cardiovascular products that we will be testing for the first time in the United States at Nationwide Children’s, and we hope to truly make a difference in the treatment of cardiac heart defects in children.”

In 2013, the Crew Soccer Foundation’s Kirk Urso Memorial Fund raised $100,000 to develop and support youth heart health research and programming. The funds raised are a core focus of the Foundation and a way to honor the late Crew midfielder Kirk Urso, who unexpectedly passed away at the age of 22 from a congenital heart defect. 

Kirk Urso Memorial Night is raising funds for the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund through sales of featured merchandise items and various on-line auction memorabilia and experiences, as well as through sales of the recently launched book by Steve Sirk, Kirk Urso: Forever Massive Memories from the 2012 Columbus Crew. The online auction runs through 1:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, August 12, 2014.

For more information on the Crew Soccer Foundations Kirk Urso Memorial Fund and ways you can donate to the Fund, please visit TheCrew.com/UrsoFund. For more information on the Crew Soccer Foundation, please visit www.CrewSoccerFoundation.org.