By Ken MacLeod

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) — Meeting your teammates for the first time can be intimidating when you’re 9-years-old and they’re huge.

But the standing ovation from the Harvard football team as Daniel Grapski, of Newton, signed his letter of intent to join them sounded pretty good.

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It’s ceremonial stuff, of course. But it was enough to bring tears to the eyes of the youngster who is fighting a rare kidney cancer. As part of a program called Team Impact, Daniel will spend the season hanging with his new big brothers at practices games and events.

“What we’re doing at Team Impact is matching children with life-threatening illnesses with college athletic teams for the benefit of the child,” said Jay Calnan, a board member of the organization.

The young cancer patient draws strength from the camaraderie, but Harvard’s coach sees equal benefit flowing the other way.

“I think it’s great, number one, to make sure people understand that it is important to give back, but it’s also great perspective for our kids,” said Harvard football coach Tim Murphy. “Sometimes they need to see that the world is not an easy place.”

“This is a kid who is battling a life-threatening disease and doing it with a lot of toughness and resiliency, and that’s exactly the type of kid we’re looking for,” Murphy said.

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Daniel is one of 1000 kids matched to a college team through the program. His positive attitude was evident immediately.

“We’re going to go undefeated,” Daniel said.

 

 

 

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Ken MacLeod