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Boy Battling Cancer Signed As Honorary Soccer Player At Colorado Christian University

By Kelly Werthmann

LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) - Colorado Christian University held a special Draft Day on Tuesday, signing the youngest and perhaps toughest athlete on the men's soccer team.

"We're just excited for the energy he's going to bring," Assistant Coach Graham Delano said.

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(credit: CBS)

In front of the entire team and other excited students, Joel Zamora picked up a black pen with a smile.

"You'll sign here," Coach Delano instructed Joel. "And your dad will sign right there."

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(credit: CBS)

When you're only 10 years old, signing on with a college team also requires parental consent. Isaac Zamora proudly inked the dotted alongside his son, grinning all the while.

"We've been excited for a long time," Isaac told CBS4's Kelly Werthmann. "He's been blessed with a lot of athletic ability."

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CBS4's Kelly Werthmann interviews the Zamora Family (credit: CBS)

You see, Joel isn't your average kid. Sure, he loves sports like most boys his age, but he does it all with one leg. Last September, Joel was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that would eventually require a partial amputation of his left leg.

"In that moment, you just feel like your world is crumbling," Becky Zamora, Joel's mother, said of her son's diagnosis. "It's very scary."

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(credit: Zamora family)

Joel got a prosthetic leg just a couple months ago and is quickly getting back to what he loves most – sports!

"He doesn't even realize or even care that he has this now," Becky said of the prosthetic. "He just keeps going and going and smiling. He smiles all the time."

With the help of nonprofit Team IMPACT, Joel will bring his vibrant energy to Colorado Christian University as an honorary member of the men's soccer team.

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Joel Zamora (credit: CBS)

"He's going to come to practices with us, we'll get him gear and a little locker," Coach Delano said. "He'll be in the locker room before games, he's going to walk out with us, do the whole team chant, everything that we do."

When asked how he feels about joining the team, Joel is a young athlete of few words.

"Happy," he said shyly.

But his bright smile says it all, and his dad said the opportunity is a game-changer for their entire family.

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(credit: Zamora family)

"To see your child go through so much pain and suffering and to come out in the end and have something like this to lean on," Isaac said. "It's definitely a huge confidence builder and faith booster for us."

Before Joel takes to the field with the team, he has another surgery planned for later this week. His new teammates, though, are keeping the faith he will be back and ready to play in no time.

Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.

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