College sports teams partner with chronically ill kids through Team IMPACT
MEDFORD - Each month, WBZ-TV will highlight Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization that pairs children with chronic illnesses and disabilities with college sports teams to form a bond of a lifetime.
Meet 6-year-old Mia Lee, who just "signed" with the Tufts University women's field hockey team. She's much smaller than the rest of her teammates, but she brings a Jumbo personality. How fitting, since that's the team's mascot!
"It kind of feels like she's a little sister for all of us," said team captain Andrea DelGiudice.
You can't tell by Mia's beaming smile, but she was diagnosed with leukemia in February 2022. She's unable to play sports because of her treatment, but that doesn't mean she can't be a part of a team.
That's where Team IMPACT comes in. Tufts University held a signing day for Mia in February, solidifying a bond that stretches far beyond the game.
"We're constantly doing fun things: bowling and hanging out with her," said Head Coach Tina Mattera. The team even went to the beach with Mia.
The 6-year-old said her favorite thing to do with her teammates is eat ice cream. Between midterm exams, the team threw Mia a surprise ice cream party with sprinkles and all. Seeing her strength, the team said, puts the stress of studying into perspective.
"She's going through treatment; she has leukemia," said Tufts athlete Chloe Brants. "She's so happy and positive all the time. She also finds it within herself to cheer other people on."
Mia and her teammates aren't the only ones benefitting from this match. It came at the perfect time for the Lee family.
"Mia was in the depths of her frontline treatment. We were at the hospital three times a week," said Mia's mother, Nar Lee. "Energy was low at the house, and we show up here and we meet the whole team. You guys are just so amazing."
"I just really like the Jumbos," Mia said. "They make me happy."
Brants, one of her closest friends, said, "It's bigger than just the sport. It's about supporting each other."
There are many college sports teams and athletes eager to be matched with a special child. If you have one in mind, check out Team IMPACT.
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