The announcement that former Ridgefield High and University of Virginia star Curt Onalfo is DC United‘s new head coach earned more than a mention on the ACC website. TheACC.com devoted an entire story to the news — and Tom Henske plays a big role in it.
In the early ’90s, Onalfo was diagnosed with cancer. Tom — now Staples’ superb goalkeeper coach, but then in the midst of leading the Cavaliers to 3 NCAA Division I national championships — was spurred to help.
He created Shoot Out for Cancer — and it soon grew into 1 of the biggest student-run fundraisers in UVa history.
Tom organized frat parties, bar nights, concerts and t-shirt sales. He charged people to take PKs on him — on a goal set up in the middle of campus.
Ironically — for he is now a financial advisor — at one point Tom had $25,000 in a Diadora shoe box under his bed. Finally, he opened a bank account.
Tom also donated 1 of his championship rings to charity — and organized events asking students, community members and businesses to match his contribution. As a senior, Tom received UVa’s Distinguished Student Award.
When he graduated, Tom made sure Shoot Out for Cancer continued. Virginia’s Student Athlete Mentors still run the event — and it still helps children and young people battling cancer.
This year’s event is set for May 2.