AFH Spotlight - Athletes for Hope

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AFH Spotlight

Athletes for Hope and USWNT’s Long History

Athletes for Hope (AFH) has a history of working alongside top leagues, programs, and teams throughout the country and beyond, but not many compare to the extensive work AFH has done with the United States Women’s National Team. 

Headshot of AFH Founding Athlete Mia Hamm soft smiling while holding a soccer ball

AFH Founding Athlete Mia Hamm helped revolutionize American soccer as a player and continued her legacy off the field by creating foundations and supporting Athletes for Hope from the very beginning. 

It was through her leadership that the AFH and USWNT relationship bloomed over the past 17 years. From the intersection of sports to a wide variety of philanthropic causes, this partnership demonstrates the power of sports in the non-profit space. 

As a current USWNT star, Alyssa Naeher has been a tremendous help in keeping Mia Hamm’s visions blossoming at AFH. Naeher epitomizes the AFH mission and spirit and will attend her third World Cup this season as the USWNT’s goalkeeper. 

Retired soccer Hall of Famer Julie Foudy, an original board member at AFH, also represents a facet of the organization’s work with the USWNT.

Foudy has been crucial to the development of Athletes for Hope and continues to provide beneficial insight while working as a soccer analyst and leader in the philanthropy field. 

Photo of AFH Board Member Julie Foudy smiling while holding an ESPN microphone

As the United States prepares to secure a third consecutive World Cup title, Athletes for Hope takes a look back at the ways we have worked alongside the USWNT. 

In 2011, former USWNT player Carin Gabarra participated in AFH’s Hope for the Holidays campaign. Gabarra visited the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club to send letters to troops for the holidays. 

Gabarra, who retired with more than 100 USWNT appearances, now serves as the coach of the United States Naval Academy Women’s Soccer team. She continues to work alongside AFH as a key contributor to our work in the soccer community and beyond. 

In 2012, Gabarra and former USWNT star Heather O’Reilly participated in AFHs 9-11 Week of Service. Gabarra led the United States Women’s Navy Soccer team to help the Annapolis Boys and Girls Club while O’Reilly spoke to kids from ages 6-13 at the Wang YMCA in Boston. 

O’Reilly won three Olympic gold medals and one World Cup with the USWNT. 

Photo of Carli Lloyd smiling with a Children's Miracle Network sticker on her hand.

In 2014, USWNT star Carli Lloyd supported AFH’s #unselfie campaign to show support for local organizations in remembrance of the September 11th attacks in 2001. These photos amplified the work our athletes support, and Lloyd has participated in our Hospital Heroes program via children’s hospital visits to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. 

Lloyd spent 17 years on the USWNT prior to 2021 and is one of four players with more than 300 career appearances. 

In 2018, Megan Rapinoe and MENTOR partnered with Athletes for Hope to highlight the power of positive relationships in the lives of young athletes. An iconic USWNT athlete, Rapinoe noted the importance of mentoring the next generation while promoting the mission alongside more than 25 AFH athletes. 

Rapinoe will be playing in her fourth World Cup for the USWNT this summer. 

That same year, former USWNT player Shannon Boxx visited West Tualatin Elementary School in collaboration with AFH Fit and Marathon Kids to hold running sessions for three months straight. Boxx is another one of AFH’s premier contributors, helping with the Mental Health Champions Club and beyond.

Photo of Shannon Boxx with kids during a soccer clinic


In 2019, AFH co-hosted an Equality Summit in France to speak out on gender equality issues. Alongside Equal Playing Field and Football Women International, AFH board member Julie Foudy and ambassador Kristine Lilly kicked off a discussion between more than 150 thought leaders in the space. 

Foudy and Lilly, members of the USWNT’s 1999 World Cup winning squad, are still active advocates of gender equality. The summit was a monumental event for the progress of female athletes in sport, and they work alongside AFH to promote these topics and more to this day. 

Photo of Dr. Rachel Buehler Van Hollebeke during an Instagram Live discussion surrounding the importance of vaccines.

In 2021, former USWNT athlete Dr. Rachel Buehler Van Hollebeke teamed up with AFH and retired WNBA player Carolyn Swords as a part of HHS’ We Can Do This campaign. Buehler led an Instagram Live discussion surrounding the importance of vaccines to keep Americans safe. 

Buehler, a former United States Olympian, became a doctor who helped on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From Abby Wambach to Heather Mitts to Ali Krieger and their generous contributions, the bond between AFH and the USWNT stems beyond a mere temporary partnership, but a cultivated relationship through which many soccer stars have given time and resources towards helping the Athletes for Hope mission. 

To this day, the relationship forges on as AFH and the USWNT come together to positively impact the world around them.

Athletes for Hope wishes the United States Women’s National Team luck this summer while supporting the women that consistently continue to redefine the status quo.