HIV and AIDS are daunting health problems around the world.
Southeast Missouri State University's INSPI(RED) Soccer organization wants to help fix the widespread epidemic and help decrease the number of people being exposed to the disease.
This global crisis caused 33.4 million people to be exposed to HIV according to www.UNAIDS.org. More than 25 million people have died from AIDS worldwide since the first cases were reported in 1981.
The organization uses the sport of soccer to inspire communities to help stop the spread of HIV.
"When I researched this program it really captured my eye," Reichenbacher said. "One hundred percent of the organization helps kids in programs, and it's also used as an education tool to save lives. It's a great program."
According to the World Health Organization's website, most people living with HIV or at risk of HIV do not have access to prevention, care and treatment, and there is no cure.
"Before I wanted to do event planning, I was interested in social work, so helping people has always been a big part of me," Reichenbacher said. "The fact that there is provided treatment as a part of their curriculum is an important thing."
In last year's tournament, 15 participants raised over $400. Reichenbacher said that it was a small way to make a big difference.
"Whenever I was told that everyone that participated in the tournament saved 16 lives, it really hit me," Reichenbacher said. "I thought about how it really does matter. The preparation for it and everything else, it was definitely worth it at the end. It was an overwhelming feeling, and I felt everything went really well."
The 16 people saved were able to be tested, treated and put into classes that focus on building life skills and healthy behaviors.
Reichenbacher said she has many friends as well as international students that plan to play in the tournament this year. She hopes to increase the number from last year's participants.
"I expect there to be a bigger outcome this year, even though last year went really well," Reichenbacher said. "I hope this event can keep happening every year, even after I graduate from Southeast."
The registration fee for Southeast students, faculty and staff is $10 per person. Registration is available online at www.grassrootsoccer.org or on the "INSPI(RED) Soccer at SEMO" page on Facebook. Games will take place from 2-6 p.m. Sept. 8 at the Shawnee Soccer Fields.
Reichenbacher said the online deadline is Sept. 7, but anyone is welcome to show up the day of the tournament and pay to play.
For additional questions, email Reichenbacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.