Soccer Organizer Honored For Work With Special-needs Kids

Desi McKenzie

Desi McKenzie

Mililani Miracles VIP soccer team founder Desi McKenzie was honored with the Gene Miranda VIP Volunteer Award at the April 28 Hawaii AYSO Section Conference in an announcement that both moved and shocked her.

“Needless to say, I just lost it and started crying like a big baby,” said McKenzie, who started the special-needs team of Very Important Players in 2005 to benefit her daughter Aubrey, who has Down syndrome and a hearing impairment. Today McKenzie remains coordinator of the team, which fields about a dozen players each year.

The previous night, she learned, Mililani Miracles coach Sharon Mujtabaa was named Hawaii AYSO Coach of the Year.

So it has all come together with benefits for everyone, especially the players.

On the nine Oahu VIP teams, sponsored by Meadow Gold, each player is paired with a buddy, such as Aubrey’s teenage sister Ashley, to support and guide them on the field. It gives players the thrill and pride of playing while fulfilling AYSO’s motto of “Everybody Plays.” And the buddies benefit as much as the players, McKenzie said.

She wrapped up her acceptance speech “by encouraging other regions to start a VIP team of their own.”