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Burn pits behind Fred Slape's living quarters at Forward Operating Base Ramrod, Afghanistan, in 2009. The pit burned all day every day unless a general or the Secretary of Defense was visiting. It was 50 feet from his living and working area.

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“I have known one family so far where the husband died of appendiceal cancer at age 27 — a cancer so rare there are only six known cases of appendiceal cancer in the world right now,” she said. “Another family, he died at the age of 35. These cancers are taking them at 20, 30, 40 years old. We should be giving them the specialized care they need beforehand, not paying their widows after they’re dead.”

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He began working with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Central Ohio in 2013, raising money, giving speeches and visiting patients at the same hospital he once frequented. He also started his hero program, hosting pediatric cancer patients such as Gomez at his games and meeting them on the field after the final whistle.

But Lampson soon started to question where donated money went in those larger nonprofits. In 2014, he started his own, the Lampstrong Foundation. It’s collectively run by his parents, three older siblings and staff at the Columbus Crew, all on a volunteer basis.

In Columbus, he started events such as the Kick Cancer Cup, with local celebrities playing a game at Columbus’ stadium to raise money for his foundation. When his contract ran out, Lampson signed with the Chicago Fire for the 2016 season and forged a partnership with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He did several fundraising events involving doughnuts, his favorite food, from running a counter at a local shop to hosting a doughnut tour around the city.

When Chicago traded him to the Loons this season, Lampson’s work began again.

He toured hospitals before settling on working with Masonic Children’s. United also has been supportive, from helping set up the hospital visits and heroes for home and away games to his teammates and club staff buying and wearing his Lampstrong Foundation T-shirts.

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