Three receive new 2014 Kick for Nick award

For the first time this year, the Kick for Nick organization awarded three area residents the 2014 Kick for Nick Award.

The award was presented last month at Tavern on Seven to Dominic Bruni of Norwalk, Thomas Thresher Jr. of Wilton, and Andrew Allers of Wilton in honor of their dedication to the group’s annual Memorial Day Tournament.

Kick for Nick was founded in honor of Pfc. Nick Madaras, U.S. Army, a Wilton man killed in the line of duty while serving in Iraq in 2006. Just before his death, Pfc. Madaras had been collecting soccer balls to distribute to the children of Iraq, who had raw talent for playing soccer but were unable to afford real soccer balls.

Kick for Nick’s goal is to spread a message of kindness and generosity to war-torn areas of the world by collecting and donating full-sized soccer balls to children in Iraq and Afghanistan, where it is often hard for children to find such equipment.

One of this year’s awardees, U.S. Army Capt. Thresher, said last week that as one of Nick’s closest childhood friends, his dedication to the organization is not charity but duty.

“Nick was my teammate growing up and one of my closest friends. After high school we also both decided to join the service; he went directly in and I went through ROTC. So when he was killed and his father started the foundation, it was natural that I try to be as involved as I could possibly be. It’s not charitable when it’s your best friend, it’s just what you do,” he said.

Each Memorial Day, Kick for Nick holds a round-robin style tournament to help raise money and awareness. Players from the Wilton community — including coaches, current players and former players — square off to honor Pfc. Madaras by playing the game he loved.

This year’s event is no different, and will be held on Monday, May 26.

One of this year’s recipients of the Kick for Nick award is the owner of Tavern on Seven, Dominic Bruni. Pfc. Madaras’s mother, Shalini, said by email last week that he has been “over-the-top generous towards the Memorial Day event and a major contributor in terms of effort. He is also a coach and player himself.”

Mr. Bruni said helping with Kick for Nick is simply the right thing to do.

“I found it really inspiring and incredible that a young man fighting in such a brutal war could somehow still be so good and selfless to find the time to think about those other than himself,” Mr. Bruni said. “Every day he would see poor Iraqi children, trapped in a war-ridden country where there is simply no happiness or purity, and one day he just thinks, ‘You know, maybe a soccer ball will change that.’

“To start off with such a tiny idea of kindness and then completely switch gears into this amazing organization, I truly admire Nick for that.”

For more information on this year’s tournament, visit Kickfornick.org.