Wendy Chisholm says her daughter would have loved the gathering of young and energetic soccer players competing in her honour at the first Reese Mueller Memorial Tournament at Trasolini Field in Port Moody last February.
On Feb. 17, they’ll take the pitch again.
Not so long ago, Chisholm said, Reese would have been right among them, guarding her net with fierce determination, a smile across her face.
“Reese always enjoyed the sport, the competition, supporting her teammates,” Chisholm said.\
But when Reese was just 15 years-old, the young goalkeeper who worked her way up to play for Port Moody Soccer Club’s competitive Metro team made a mistake.
Idled from her usual athletic and social routines by COVID-19 public health restrictions, Reese started hanging out with a crowd that experimented with drugs.
She smoked marijuana, then tried others until a bad dose laced with fentanyl cost her her life.
Devastated by her loss yet energized to ensure a similar tragedy doesn’t touch other families, Chisholm teamed with PMSC technical director Brittany Timko-Baxter to organize last year’s inaugural tournament that brought together 170 U8-U12 boys and girls for a day of fun on the pitch, playing four-on-four matches in a festival format for medals, prizes and maybe a little awareness.
This year’s event, also to be held at Trasolini Field, will be similar, with Wings Outdoor Grill and Evanston’s Chicago Eatery food trucks on hand for snacks and refreshments, a silent auction and an electronic 50/50 draw.
Chisholm said the more than 2,500 lives lost to toxic drugs in British Columbia last year are testimony to the importance of opening eyes and starting conversations about the crisis.
“Youth awareness to the risks of toxic drugs and the crisis that exists is critical,” she said.
“Toxic drugs do not discriminate, no matter how old you are, where you live, who you are.”