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Grassroot Soccer World AIDS Day Gala Set for December 1 in


New York, New York, Nov. 16, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Grassroot Soccer, the renowned international adolescent health organization celebrating its 20th anniversary, will host its annual World AIDS Day Gala on Thursday, December 1 at the legendary Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City.

“Over the past two decades, Grassroot Soccer has leveraged the power of soccer to equip more than 18 million adolescents in over 60 countries with life-saving health information, services, and mentorship,” said Dr. Tommy Clark, Grassroot Soccer’s founder and CEO.

“This annual gala provides our organization with the critical resources needed to continue our mission,” said Ethan Zohn, Grassroot Soccer co-founder and winner of CBS’s Survivor: Africa. “It also celebrates the Grassroot Soccer Coaches who are making a difference for so many young people.”

Clark and Zohn, along with teammates Kirk Friedrich and Methembe Ndlovu, founded Grassroot Soccer in 2002 after witnessing the devastating effects of HIV while playing professional soccer together in Zimbabwe. After watching friends die of AIDS, the four teammates recognized that soccer — a positive force in the community — could be used to engage adolescents to stop the spread of HIV. Over its 20 years, GRS has evolved from a disease focus to an adolescent health focus, empowering young people to make educated choices about their most pressing and interconnected health challenges, including HIV/AIDS, mental health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and gender-based violence.

“If you’re playing something you love like soccer, that’s when you’re most open to hearing a message,” said Seth Meyers, host of NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers. Meyers will guide the gala festivities throughout the evening, which will include live and silent auctions featuring unique experiences provided by Borussia Dortmund, Gio Reyna, Chelsea FC, Ted Lasso‘s Phil Dunster, Major League Soccer, Survivor‘s Jeff Probst, and many others.

Natalie Portman, the Academy Award-winning actress and co-founder of Angel City FC, will be honored with Grassroot Soccer’s Game-Changer Award at the gala, along with co-founders Julie Uhrman and Kara Nortman. The award recognizes the club and its founders for their transformational leadership in women’s sports and the gender equity movement.

The evening will feature a menu curated by world-renowned chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, a performance by Afro-Cuban funk sensation Cimafunk, and appearances by celebrity athletes, health heroes, and more. Grassroot Soccer will also be debuting a limited-edition commemorative 20th Anniversary jersey, developed in partnership with Icarus Football and (All proceeds from jersey sales will support Grassroot Soccer.)

Grassroot Soccer’s World AIDS Day Gala is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year, raising over $1.5M to support its global adolescent health programs. Prominent figures participating in past galas have included David Beckham, Christen Press (Grassroot Soccer Global Board Member and Ambassador), Sir Alex Ferguson, Tobin Heath, Al Gore, Jurgen Klopp, Christian Pulisic, Abby Dahlkemper, Roger Bennett, Siya Kolisi, and more. Watch the 2021 Grassroot Soccer Gala highlight reel here.

About Grassroot Soccer

Grassroot Soccer (GRS) is an adolescent health organization that leverages the power of soccer to equip young people with the life-saving information, services, and mentorship they need to live healthier lives. GRS’s evidence-based SKILLZ programs, led by trained local Coaches, incorporate soccer and fun into interactive and dynamic activities about health that engage young people and break down stigma and cultural barriers. Since it was founded in 2002, GRS has established itself as a game-changer in adolescent health by empowering young people to make educated choices about their most pressing and interconnected health challenges, including HIV/AIDS, mental health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, COVID-19, gender-based violence, and malaria. GRS works with affiliate sites in South Africa and Zambia and has also partnered with organizations in more than 60 countries. With proven results and a consistent focus on research and innovation, GRS programs have reached more than 18 million young people, building their assets (health knowledge and the confidence to use it), improving their access to high-quality health services, and increasing their adherence to crucial treatments and healthy behaviors. For more information, visit

About World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day, which takes place annually on December 1, allows people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, to show support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died from an AIDS-related illness. Founded in 1988, World AIDS Day was the first ever global health day. For more information, visit


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