BOSTON (CBS) – It’s heartbreaking when a child is seriously ill, but some local people are working together to help them recover by “drafting” those kids into college sports, and that can change lives.
At a regular afternoon practice of the Babson College women’s softball team, a special teammate is in the stands, 8-year-old Lily Swallow. “I had leukemia,” Lily says. That was when she was just 7 months old. She spent about a year of her young life in the hospital, enduring rounds of chemotherapy. The treatments worked, but took a toll. “We noticed that she was having some anxieties when other adults would come near her and she had some post traumatic stress from going through all the treatments,” says Lily’s mother Amy Swallow.
That’s when Team Impact came into the picture. That’s a group that connects children with serious illnesses with college athletes, drafting them onto the team.
“It’s cool to be part of the team because you get to do everything like them,” says Lily. And she also gets friends and role models. For Lily, that’s made a big difference. “She talks about them all the time at home, she dresses like them at home, she does her hair all the time like them,” says her mother.
“This is something that isn’t just for a weekend or for a particular game. This lasts throughout the duration of their childhood,” says Jay Calnan, a Team Impact board member.
The softball team gets together with Lily off the field for birthdays, holidays and just to have fun. “You see what she’s had to fight through and us fighting on the field is really for her. We’re putting up the battle for her, so it’s amazing,” says Tess Rubega, a Babson junior.
“I see her changing for the better every day I see her. It’s really satisfying to know that you’ve helped her out in that way,” adds another player, Christina Miquel. And it’s working.
“Before I was shy and now I’m not,” says Lily.
Team Impact is always looking for children to connect with college athletes. To find out more about the program: CLICK HERE