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FGCU Athletics should get involved with The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation

There is one organization that Florida Gulf Coast University may consider working with in the near future. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is a magical story about a 9-year-old girl, a start-up Division I women’s lacrosse team, and a big dream that all came together in an incredible story of events.

According to northbynorthwestern.com, 9-year-old Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma in 2004. It is a malignant brain tumor that requires a grueling regimen of chemotherapy to destroy and radiation therapy to try to keep the cancer away for good.

The recovery process caused her hair to fall out, stopped her growth, damaged her hearing and eyesight and diminished her coordination so badly; she needed to relearn how to walk. Murphy went all the way down to 50 pounds because of the cancer treatments. All of this came with only a 60 percent chance of survival for Murphy.

Murphy is also very passionate about sports. She grew up playing soccer. After a few years, Murphy was fascinated with lacrosse.

“I was a tomboy, and sports were my life,” Murphy said.

In 2005, Murphy became connected to and later adopted as an honorary member of the Northwestern women’s lacrosse team. Her strength, courage, relentless spirit and joy for life inspired the players to perform for her. On game day, the Wildcats wore shirts that sported Murphy’s motto: “Live in the moment, play in the moment.”

The team began to play for Murphy and achieved a magical “perfect season” winning Northwestern’s first NCAA national championship in 64 years.

Since the championship game against the University of Virginia was held in Annapolis, Maryland. Murphy could attend and celebrate on the field with the Wildcats. She even predicted the final score to be 13-10 in the championship final. She inspired the team to go on to win seven consecutive Division I NCAA national titles.

According to the foundation’s website, Murphy wanted to share a big dream with her father. She wanted other children with pediatric brain tumors to have the similar experiences of being an honorary team member. The Murphys understood that it is ultimately the love, support and friendship of others that give people the inspiration and courage to get through a challenging journey.

The Murphy family started The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families. They wanted to pair them with college and high school athletic teams to become honorary members of the teams.

Soon, Murphy’s story became news all across the country. HBO did two episodes for “Real Sports” about Murphy’s story.

The first one aired on July 21, 2009. By this time, Jaclyn was 14 years old and cancer free. The second one aired on Oct. 22, 2013. This one talked about her story continues to inspire hundreds of sick children with sports teams across the country.

I believe FGCU should get involved with an organization like Friends of Jaclyn. Other colleges have done similar activities in the past.

According to USF athletics, they got involved with people similar to Murphy. Nick Wolf, 9, and his brother, Scott, 8, got the swashbuckling adventure kids dream of during the Wolf Pirate Takeover. This featured a treasure-seeking journey that took place every half inning and between innings. Wolf became an honorary USF baseball team captain last August and joined the Bulls’ family through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation adoption program.

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