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Seoul Warriors kick-off for biracial kids

Seoul Warriors enjoyed a double triumph on Sunday as they donated almost 2 million won to charity before beating defending champions Daegu Phoenix.

The American football team donated the cash to help support disadvantaged youths of mixed race in Korea through the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. The team’s cofounder, Lawrence Bowlby, had suggested a charity link with the foundation, prompting a one mile fundraising hill-run the preceding Thursday.

Warriors president and coach, Jason Braedon, presented the check to Korea’s Pearl S. Buck director, Kyung-hee Bae, at half-time once his team had established a slender 10-7 lead at their Yongsan garrison home base match. 
From left: Ian MacLeod, Lawrence Bowlby, Kyunghee Bae, Lee Hye-Young and Jason Braedon pose as the Warriors hand over a 2 million won check to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. (William du Plessis)
From left: Ian MacLeod, Lawrence Bowlby, Kyunghee Bae, Lee Hye-Young and Jason Braedon pose as the Warriors hand over a 2 million won check to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. (William du Plessis)

It seemed that doing their bit for charity motivated the side to take charge, with a group of visiting Pearl S. Buck children cheering them on to inspire three more unanswered touchdowns before the match ended 31-7 in their favor against the team they suffered a crushing defeat to a season earlier.

The Warriors’ reversal of fortune echoes the way in which American football had changed the life of Pearl S. Buck Foundation benefactor, Heinz Ward. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Most Valuable Player of their victorious 2005 NHL season is the child of an African-American father and Korean mother. As such, he is no stranger to the hardships biracial youths face.

Ward left Korea with his mother to live in Georgia, but his NHL achievements brought him notoriety in Korea and an audience with the Korean president in 2006.

During his visit, Ward was so moved by the all too familiar pain of mixed race youths in Korea that he pledged to take a group of Pearl S. Buck youths from Seoul to Pittsburgh every year to help them rise above discrimination. A group has visited him every NHL football season since.

This season’s group, all with white or black American fathers, was in attendance at Sunday’s game. Bae said the match gave them valuable exposure to American football before they fly in two weeks to join Heinz and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Braedon expressed hope that his Seoul Warriors’ support will aid the Pearl S. Buck Foundation’s efforts to raise awareness of the plight of socially isolated youths here.

There are currently more than 19,000 biracial children in Korea. Most of them so-called “Kosian” with parents from a different Asian country. Social welfare officials say that many of these “Amerasians” are still ostracized by their peers because of their appearance.

By William du Plessis (wim.duplessis@gmail.com)
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