Playing for hope

By Sara Marshall

Four friends will dibble a soccer ball 250 miles to raise money for Toledo charity (illustration by Christian Washington).

Four college soccer players are trying to transform Toledo, Ohio, one mile at a time.

Junior Jake Essig and senior Isaac Beal will join fellow college students and friends Derek Garde, a sophomore at the University of Cincinnati, and Nick Streibick, a sophomore at Asbury University, as they dribble a soccer ball across Ohio this summer.

Essig, Beal, Garde and Streibick have a common love for soccer and wanted to incorporate that into making a positive impact on a community. Their project, which they have named “Dribble4Toledo,” started as a four-way dream to take a trip that would stretch them as people and strengthen their friendship.

“We wanted to raise money and increase awareness of the poverty and need of a nearby city that is often overlooked,” Essig said. “We wanted to add dribbling a soccer ball into the mix because that is what brought us together from the start. Soccer is what is unique to us, and God has given us the ability to make a change through it.”

After considering different trips and spending time in Toledo working with different organizations, they decided that they wanted to raise money and awareness for the city.

Dribble4Toledo is scheduled to begin May 20, and they estimate it will take three to four weeks to complete the 250 mile trek from Monroe, Ohio, their starting point, to Toledo.

The four have made a goal to dribble 10 to 15 miles per day in order to make this possible. They will take turns dribbling the ball throughout the entire trip.

Essig said their overall hope for the project is to make an impact on the City of Toledo, however slight it may be.

“Per population, Toledo is the poorest city in the United States,” Essig said. “If we can help one person by doing this dribble it will be deemed a success in our eyes. We are called to be the change we wish to see in the world, so we are trying to live that out in our life.”

The four hope to raise $10,000 as a result of the dribble for LifeLine Toledo, an organization that Essig and Beal were introduced to through the men’s soccer team mission-minded preseason trip.

“[LifeLine] exists to help bring about the kingdom of God in Toledo through building and facilitating organic spiritual community in the inner city,” Essig said. “It also helps mobilize the people of Toledo and other resources to help lift the city out of poverty, through collaborative missional efforts to bring transformation to individuals, organizations and systems.”

The four hope to spread a message about the City of Toledo, but also want to challenge others to get involved, Beal said.

“Take initiative and step outside your comfort zones,” he said. “We do not really know what we are doing at times with this trip, and all its planning and organization, because we have never done anything like this, but we have put our trust in God. We know God can do amazing things.”

As the dribble gets closer, there are many details that need to be put together, such as finding housing for the duration of the trip, Essig said.

Beal explained that the four have felt a strong support system from friends, family and all three college campuses. Students and faculty have been interested in the progress and have supported them to make this trip more.

“We want people to know that it isn’t only their monetary giving that can make a change,” he said. “Obviously, money does help, but we want people to get involved in this movement in whatever way they feel called to do so. Such as sharing our social media outlets, dribbling with us for part of the trip, donating clothing, food, time and so on. The people are the change and the key part of this radical transforming mission. We are just the hands and feet.”

They will update their journey on or on Twitter through the handle @Dribble4Toledo.

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