ST. CHARLES, Mo (KMOX) – Reagan Cathcart worked for months to gather two pick-up truck loads of soccer balls, cleats, jerseys and warmups, that are currently being delivered to Ghana. Just a few days after Christmas, she’ll be reunited with the soccer equipment and be able to hand it out to hundreds of kids near the city of Yendi.
The Francis Howell High School sophomore is going with a group of 50 people, many of whom work in the medical field, as part of the semi-annual Care4Ghana mission trip. They’ll be gone for more than a week, carrying out medical procedures such as hernia repairs, thyroid surgery, c-sections, and anything else that comes through the hospital door.
Dr. Patricia Limpert, a breast surgeon at St. Luke’s Hospital, has gone on both of Care 4 Ghana’s first two mission trips. She said in 2013 they performed 70 surgeries on one trip, then in 2016 it was up to 100. Her husband, Dr. Jonathan Limpert, is a surgeon at Mercy Hospital in Washington, Mo., and was one of the mission’s organizers. He works with Cathcart’s uncle, and when he met Cathcart’s father, he suggested his daughter may be willing to contribute to the next trip.
“In return for going, I would have to do a service project,” Cathcart says. “And along the way I heard that kids over there just go bananas for this soccer thing.”
Cathcart’s athletic expertise rests in the swimming pool, as a member of the 2nd place in 200 Yard Freestyle Relay team in last year’s Missouri State Finals. But she recruited the help of the Francis Howell soccer programs, Soccer Master and the community to help gather the soccer equipment.
“We’ve tried in the past to get different (soccer) equipment for them, different balls, shoes, uniforms and just haven’t been as successful,” Patricia Limpert says. “Now, Reagan has probably 30 totes of equipment that we are going to be able to take to that school.”
The soccer equipment is currently inside a 40-foot cargo crate, on a nearly two-month boat trip from the U.S. to Ghana. Limpert says it costs about $15,000 to transport all of their medical supplies and food for the week. And when it makes port in Ghana, it will still take about a month to get it 400 miles north to Yendi.
It isn’t the first time Howell has donated its lightly used soccer gear. In an episode of ABC’s “The Amazing Race” you can see a local from the east African country of Zanzibar wearing a Vikings t-shirt.
While Cathcart is in Ghana she’ll be in the operating room, observing and learning. She’ll be transporting patients from their village to the hospital and back. She’ll help the nurses chart medical information, care for the new born babies and even entertain the kids with balloon animals.
The medical work will last for about four and a half days. Then on the last day, they’ll deliver the soccer gear.
Cathcart plans to pursue a career in medicine, possibly Neurology. This trip will not only give her a look into a possible future, but also a chance to find a passion for medicine.
“I just really like the aspect of helping people,” Cathcart says.
Limpert is looking forward to working with Cathcart during each step.
“It’s going to be just awesome to be able to have that one-on-one time with her and really teach her just the cool thing about what the world of medicine can be,” Limpert says. “Because truly you have to have the passion in today’s world.”