Two-year Crew SC Season Ticket Member Thomas Costello's journey to MAPFRE Stadium is different than most.
The Northeast Ohio native is a a transplant resident of Columbus — the city he calls home with his family and for his fandom. On Saturday, when Crew SC officially opens 2017 against the Chicago Fire at 2 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium, presented by MAPFRE Insurance, Costello will be there.
"It's a family," Costello says. "You can be anyone from anywhere and you can enjoy every game with people that are very different than you are, but they share their love of Crew SC and supporting the team. It's a tool to have conversations, interactions and relationships. I can't think of another way to gain the same experiences that I have at Crew SC matches."
His route to the match will start — like many — in Dublin, traveling along Dublin Granville Rd. before turning right onto N. High. His 13.47 mile trek will not be on wheels and will take roughly 2.5 hours. Costello is running the route, training for a full 26-mile marathon that he plans to run in April.
"I am not an athlete," Costello says. "I was never overly athletic, but I was always a huge sports fan growing up. I was never a big runner until 2009 or 2010. I had a friend that that planned a walk across the world — starting from the Appalachian Trail and going across the world — to help raise awareness and money to provide clean water to those in need. From there, it became 'OK, how can I get involved."
He's now a Lifewater runner, training for the 2017 Hall of Fame Marathon on April 30. For that run, Costello aims to raise $1,500 to benefit Lifewater — an organization devoted to "providing hygiene resources, access to water, training to individuals so they can keep the equipment functioning" in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Uganda.
"Lifewater works to support sustainable actions in their target areas, drilling wells and providing the clean water, but by also training on maintenance of the mechanisms," Costello says. "The donations go directly to those in need."
According to Lifewater, $40 dollars allows one person a lifetime of safe water, hygiene and sanitation; $240 can provide the same for an entire family.
In about 2011, Costello began with a half-marathon. In the six years since, running is an everyday activity.
"It became something where I love running and I love Crew SC," Costello says. "This has morphed from something to do with friends, and now its something to accomplish amazing things across the world while still doing things that I love. Raising money for others while involving Crew SC fans is a very special opportunity to me."
Adding a twist into Costello's campaign, he's putting his beard of more than two years on the line. Those that donate toward his goal can vote whether he will "Shave It" or "Save It." In the simplest terms, the side with more votes determines whether the beard stays or goes.
"It's polarizing," Costello says. "When you give, you decide. The night before my marathon on April 29, it will happen. I'm secretly hoping to keep it, but I won't be upset if it's shaved. It's been growing for a good long while. I think my wife and children may be happy to see it go.
"In the end, I'll be happy for what will be contributed."
- Lifewater provides wells, clean water resources, hygiene education, and job training to provide healthy lives, and to break the cycle of poverty.
- Support is provided in Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Uganda
- 138 safe water points under construction through the first quarter of 2017
- 66 thousand people reached through the WASH campaign to educate about hygiene resources
- Last year, in Ethiopia, a school that normally has 50 students drop out due to poor health have 0 drop outs this year, after Lifewater intervention.
MAPFRE Stadium's gates will open at 12:30 p.m. ET for Saturday's 2 p.m. ET kickoff. The first 10,000 supporters in the gates will receive a free MAPFRE Insurance Crew SC key chain, and Saturday will be the general public's first chance to purchase the club's new 2017 Primary Jersey (while limited supplies last).
The 2017 Major League Soccer and Crew SC regular season opens on March 4 against the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium, presented by MAPFRE Insurance. The full Crew SC preseason and regular schedule can be downloaded and synced on iOS and Android devices.