Union to honor Kellan Ford and Maddie Harris throughout September


Philadelphia Union will pay tribute to a pair of Fearless 43 members when playing at Subaru Park in September with the captain's armband displaying the names Kellan Ford and Maddie Harris as part of the club's Kick Childhood Cancer initiatives.

The armband will honor Kellan when they face off against rivals New York Red Bulls on Sunday, September 3rd. Following the FIFA International break, the Union will honor Maddie when they host FC Cincinnati for Kick Childhood Cancer Night on Saturday, September 16th. September's finale against FC Dallas will see the club honor both Kellan and Maddie with a special armband displaying both their names on September 27th.


Kellan was a young Union fan that loved to kick the ball around the field with his father and inspired the club and the region to be #KellanStrong after being diagnosed in 2020 at the age of four with medulloblastoma. He spent 10 days in CHOP before heading home and three weeks later, in true Kellan fashion, he seemed in a better mood than everyone else. He even had enough energy to run around the track at his dad’s school a few times. Just because it seemed like fun. He bounced back from a diagnosis, surgery, and an extended hospital stay with spirit. Spirit and resolve that eventually gave way to a slogan: “Kellan Strong.”

Just before he turned five, it was discovered that Kellan’s cancer had spread to his bone marrow which was followed immediately with chemotherapy. In March, the Ford family went to the hospital for another scan that revealed that the cancer had spread throughout his body. Kellan did his best to choose happiness the rest of the way. And the community around him did their best to make that choice easier. People wore red shirts with a lightning bolt and the words “Kellan Strong” on the front.

The Union sent Kellan a box of goodies including a Union blanket and teddy bear that would accompany Kellan everywhere from there on out. Manager Jim Curtin and his favorite player, Alejandro Bedoya, even sent along a video to let Kellan know they were thinking of him.

“Wow,” Kellan said. “They’re Kellan Strong too.”

The Union also invited Kellan and his family to meet the team and attend a game. He never got the chance as he passed away on June 11, 2021.

Although Kellan was unable to attend a Union game, the club still brought the Fords to a training session to meet the team and to attend a game. In the first game the Ford’s attended after the end of his battle, Bedoya, proudly wearing Kellan’s favorite number and a kit with lightning bolts on it, scored his first goal of the season.

On Sept. 19, 2021, the Ford’s were at Subaru Park again. This time for Kick Childhood Cancer night at Subaru Park. The team wore Kellan Strong pins walking into the stadium and Bedoya wore a special armband. Gold with two letters: KF.

Fans that would like to make a donation in Kellan's name are encouraged to do so by donating to the Kellan Ford Foundation.


Maddie was diagnosed with a grade 3 brain stem glioma. In the beginning, the doctors weren’t worried that it was a form of cancer. However as it grew, Maddie had a surgery that confirmed that it was cancerous. In November 2018, she began chemotherapy and a year later, radiation. She passed away in November 2022.

Maddie's connection to the club began in 2020 as part of the Fearless 43, a group of children fighting childhood cancer that Philadelphia Union has been working with to raise awareness during Kick Childhood Cancer month. Through the program, both Alejandro Bedoya and homegrown Paxten Aaronson grew close with the teen as she underwent radiation, and the players invited Maddie and her family out as special guests at Subaru Park.

After the match, the duo met up with Maddie on the field where they gave her not one, but two surprise gifts. Paxten gifted her a custom No. 30 adidas Kick Childhood Cancer warmup top and signed it while Bedoya informed the teen that he would have her name displayed on the club's gold armband for all of September as part of #KickChildhoodCancer Month. Maddie was on the captain's shoulder and in his heart when he scored against Orlando City SC on September 10th. Union goalkeeper Andre Blake then wore the special armband the following week at Atlanta United where he turned in one of his strongest performances of the season.

Fans that would like to make a donation in Maddie's name are encouraged to do so by donating to Kisses For Kyle.