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Nerf Blaster Battles raises funds for Kick Cancer

07/19/2017, 7:20pm CDT
By Mary Brickner, Media Intern

It’s hard to come across somebody who doesn’t have some sort of connection to cancer, and this year’s Kick Cancer day at Schwan’s USA CUP showed an outpouring of support as players lined up to place their donations to our four selected charities on campus. But a unique element was added this year, creating another personal connection to the battle against cancer at USA CUP.

Matt Nelson, the founder of Project My Neighborhood, helps a USA CUP team get set up for a Nerf Blaster Battle.

Project My Neighborhood hosts Nerf Blaster Battles throughout the Twin Cities and across the country, where participants can dodge obstacles and inflatables while competing with friends in Nerf battles. The money they raise goes toward bullying prevention and education.

“Our overall mission statement is that we invest in the long term health of the community,” Nelson said. “Throughout our events we cover dealing with adversity, the impact on the choices we make, the slippery slope of teasing versus bullying and knowing you’re not alone.”

The foundation has only been around for about one year, but things are growing quickly and spreading across the country at a fast rate.

“We’ve done events on both coasts,” Nelson said. “We’ve been very aggressive in our growth strategy, and as a non-profit full of volunteers, it’s really whatever free time we have put into it, so we’ve been fortunate with what we’ve been able to get out of it.”

While bullying prevention is the foundation’s primary cause, today they made a special exception for a very personal reason, opting to give all the donations they received today to Kick Cancer.

“My father passed away from stage four colon cancer and was a soccer referee,” Nelson said. “So really all of this was something that we wanted to be a part of, and we were very happy to do so.”

Nelson’s father is what ultimately inspired him to begin his non-profit, so it only seemed fitting to honor him at this year’s USA CUP.

“Just a couple of months into his diagnosis, I decided that I’m going to be a better person,” he said. “During his two year battle with colon cancer, I started getting into philanthropy and social impact things, and really this just kind of fell into place with it.”

Matt Nelson came to USA CUP’s Kick Cancer day to help spread awareness after his father passed away from colon cancer.

Colon Cancer Coalition was one of USA CUP’s four hand-selected charities on campus today, and nobody understands its devastating effects quite like Colon Cancer Coalition market and outreach director Kate Krebs.

“It’s important to get out in the community and raise awareness,” she said. “Unfortunately, colon cancer is on the rise, and awareness is a huge part of that.”

Nelson hopes to be back in future years, and as a USA CUP alumni himself, he is excited about the possibilities that now exist in comparison to years past.

“The biggest change is this environment,” he said. “I remember USA CUP being very, very long and spending time in the hotel. There were no activities like this. You needed to go to the mall, you needed to go to the movie theater or something because this never existed. I’m glad they’re using these extra elements to give back.”

Nelson hopes to be back in future years during USA CUP to help spread awareness of cancer, but for now, he has his sights set on something big coming up this fall.

“We’re going to attempt to break the world record of the biggest Nerf battle,” he said. “The record is around 2,200 people, so we need all hands on deck.”

Tag(s): July 19, 2017