Craig Willinger '87 was a Highlandtown native and proud Archbishop Curley High School alum. In March 2007 at the age of 37, Craig’s life was turned upside down by a diagnosis of stage IV chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Told he would likely have less than seven years, Craig’s girlfriend, Johanna Agueda, thought he needed something really big to inspire him to fight and, knowing Craig so well, it would involve soccer.
In the summer of 2008, a conversation among strangers at a Baltimore pub sparked the idea that Craig’s family was dreaming of. Moved by Craig’s story, members of the Liverpool FC Supporters Club decided to raise funds to send him to see his beloved Bayern Munich play at their home stadium in Germany.
Craig was so inspired by the generosity of others and from his own once-in-a-lifetime experience that on his return trip from Germany he asked, “Why not for someone else?” With that idea, the Craig Willinger Fund (CWFund) was born. Although still dealing with his own chronic and terminal cancer diagnosis, he put all his energy towards fulfilling the dreams of other soccer fans fighting the same battle. Since 2010, CWFund honorees have traveled to South Africa, Barcelona, Milan, London, Madrid, New York City, Manchester, and Brazil, including worldclass events like the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League Final.
On February 15, 2012, Craig Willinger passed away from complications related to a bone marrow transplant. Craig’s dream of delivering hope and inspiration to young soccer fans stricken with cancer remains the inspiration and mission of the Craig Willinger Fund and lives through his family, friends, soccer fans, and CWFund honorees united by the knowledge that the ‘beautiful game’ can fuel inspiration, passion, determination, and love. Learn more at cwfund.org .