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Kicking for a Cause

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Hollis Belger’s soccer ball rarely hits the turf. The nine-year-old is an expert at soccer juggling, or keeping the ball in the air by whatever means necessary (though Belger only uses her feet for added difficulty). The native of Larkspur, Calif., worked hard to become the best juggler on her U9 team. And now she's used her unique skill to help raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. This summer donors pledged money per kick as as a part of Hollis's "Juggling for Jude" initiative.

"My family is really close to St. Jude," says Hollis. "I've been touched by all the kids' stories. It's been really amazing to help out this group."

Always trying to improve her totals, Hollis was eventually able to juggle 461 times without dropping the ball. She updated her blog with videos, even getting U.S. women's national team soccer legends Mia Hamm, Michelle Akers, and Kristine Lilly to help spread the word. Current U.S. midfielder YaelAverbuch uploaded a video in which she teamed with Hollis to promote Juggling for Jude and teach other kids how to juggle. Hollis's efforts have resulted in a total of $33,000 so far. She also garnered a Sports Feel Good Story of the Year award and donated the $500 prize to St. Jude.

Photo: Jed Jacobsohn for Sports Illustrated

hollis belger soccer st. jude's children's hospital