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Heartwarming goal for high school kickers around Iowa

"When I watch my son's field goals go through that goal post, whether it goes through or not, the kick is still good."

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Kate Safris and four other mothers went through something that no parent should ever have to go through: losing a child before its life ever started.

“We reached the point where we went through anger and grief and frustration and why didn't we know this and then we said okay enough we have to do something about it,” said Safris.

So they came up with a way to educate future moms so they would not have to feel their heartbreak.

“We often say that when we get to do work like this, that’s how I am a parent to my daughter that I lost."

By educating expectant mothers about checking the baby’s health at home through different ways, one being by counting the kicks of the baby inside the womb.

From there the idea was born, a campaign put on by a nonprofit in Healthy Birthday.  

In its first 10 years the Count the Kicks campaign has helped lower the state of Iowa’s rate of stillborn births by 32%. And it’s not just moms that are doing the talking.

Former Iowa kicker Keith Duncan usually is talking about lining up field goals, but now, it’s a new conversation.

“We're not only creating baby saves we're not only creating awareness creating funding, we're also impacting the lives of these high school athletes so they can go out in the community and feel comfortable asking their neighbor for help,”he said.

The latest campaign push comes through professional, collegiate and high school football kickers, where every field goal and extra point counts towards raising money for research.  

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"But now that they're doing that, we're able to see a lifetime impact on what they're doing as a 16, 17, 18-year-old kid,” said Duncan.

One of those high schoolers is Gianna Bennett, a sophomore at Des Moines Christian who has taken it to a new level. Raising more than $3,500 before the first kickoff of 2023 season.

“I know that I can play football and do something I love with a greater purpose in mind and know that every kick that I take raises money for something that's a really good cause and it was something worth doing,” Bennett said.

Something worth doing for someone they might never meet all relying on a kick or an extra point.

“We had a mom say to us it’s going to bring a whole new meaning to the phrase the kick is good right when I watch my son's field goals go through that goal post weather goes through or not. The kick is still good,” said Safris.

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