VW develops telepresence robot offering 360-degree virtual meeting experience; firm partners with US Men’s, Women’s National Soccer teams to give kids with health challenges a chance to be virtual player on teams via robot during key moments in season

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HERNDON, Virginia , February 9, 2022 (press release) –

  • CHAMP provides once-in-a-lifetime opportunities as a U.S. Soccer virtual player honoree to kids who can’t attend matches in person

Volkswagen of America launched another meet-up with CHAMP, the telepresence robot, and two brothers had their dreams come true.

At just 2 years and 8 months, Anthony was diagnosed with leukemia. Thanks to the stellar treatment at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA), where he was under the care of Dr. Etan Orgel, Anthony is still with us today. 

Now, he’s 7 years old and in remission. And his brother, Sarkis, three years Anthony’s senior, has been his beacon. The two developed a profound bond during Anthony’s treatment, with Sarkis even becoming a Junior Ambassador at CHLA after Anthony completed treatment in August 2020. 

The ambassadorship, combined with the boys’ love of soccer, has provided them with an opportunity to make a difference for other children who’ve faced similar health challenges. For Sarkis, he’s doing this through his work with CHLA. "Sarkis is a proud member of the Junior Ambassador Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and, by virtue of his membership in Atletico Southern California’s (ASC's) youth soccer Club, ASC has committed 10% of the profits from its clinics and camps to be donated to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” Melissa Demirjian, the boys’ mother, said.

Enter: CHAMP, Volkswagen’s telepresence robot. CHAMP partnered with the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Soccer Teams to give kids who have faced extraordinary adversity in their young lives a chance to experience something special. The young virtual player honorees get a 360-degree experience with the teams during key moments on the U.S. Soccer calendar, like matchdays. Anthony and Sarkis were selected to be CHAMP’s most recent honorees.

“When I told the children they had been selected to be virtual player honorees through the CHAMP program, they were ecstatic — they were pinching themselves, recognizing this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Demirjian shared. She went on to explain why this experience was so important to the family and why it meant so much to watch Anthony’s unbridled excitement: “He has no doubt felt different than other children, but Anthony is a survivor and he showed me strength that I continue to marvel at.”

The partnership was equally fulfilling for the players. Tyler Adams, a player on the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team, appeared just as excited to participate. “This program with Volkswagen ultimately gives them that experience that they can take in everything in their surroundings, whether it’s the fans, whether it’s the players, whether it’s the locker room,” Adams said. “CHAMP is just the robot that allows them to do everything.” 

Reflecting on the young virtual honorees, Adams noted the entire CHAMP experience was a moving one: “We look up to these kids and we know that they look up to us but, ultimately, it's very humbling to meet these kids because they don't understand the effect that they have on us.”

CHAMP has since appeared at a FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the U.S. and Honduras in St. Paul, Minnesota, and much to the delight of future honorees, CHAMP is also scheduled to be at future matches throughout the year. Look out for news of CHAMP and its whereabouts across our social channels.

About Volkswagen
Volkswagen of America, Inc. is an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, which is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG. Headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, Volkswagen Group of America’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and a state-of-the-art assembly facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Arteon, Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf GTI, Golf R, ID.4, Jetta, Jetta GLI, Passat, Taos, and Tiguan vehicles through more than 600 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen online at www.vw.com or media.vw.com to learn more.

“VW”, “Volkswagen”, all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG.

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