Team Impact pairs 9-year-old kidney transplant patient with Northeastern hockey team
BOSTON - Nine-year old Simon Valencia-Devin has been through more than most kids his age.
"He was born with polycystic kidney failure, which is end stage renal disease," said Simon's mother, Maria Valencia-Devin.
Simon got a kidney transplant from his father when he was just a baby. Despite the surgeries and hospital visits, he's still able to brighten up any room. That's what his teammates on the Northeastern men's ice hockey team love most about him.
"Every time we see him, he has a smile on his face. On the bench, during warmups is probably my favorite. He's always really happy there," said student-athlete Hunter McDonald.
Simon is paired with the Huskies through Team Impact, a non-profit organization that pairs chronically ill children with collegiate sports teams.
WBZ-TV asked Simon about his favorite part of being on the team.
"Sliding, being on the ice and watching them win!" Simon said with a smile on his face.
"I think at the Beanpot, seeing him hold the trophy," athlete Justin Hryckowian told WBZ. "I don't know if he knows what it means for us to have him around as well."
It's Simon's perseverance that's the biggest lesson for these Northeastern hockey players.
"It really puts life into perspective. We're lucky he's here. It's been eight years," McDonald said. "Which is cool."
It's been eight years since Simon got his new kidney. Every year, his family releases balloons, not only to celebrate, but to encourage others to register as an organ donor, especially in April during Donate Life Month.
"We wouldn't be in these moments today without these transplants," Valencia-Devin said. "It's definitely a call to a new life. It's embracing life."
Celebrating each win, each year and each moment they have with Simon - thanks to the generosity of others.
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