D-III Springfield embraces 9-year-old cancer patient

first_img Published on October 23, 2013 at 12:59 am Contact Kristin: [email protected] | @kriskross22 Facebook Twitter Google+ When Springfield (Mass.) College takes its home field, at the front of the pack is one of its most valuable team members, right next to the team captains and seniors: a 9-year-old boy, dressed in his very own uniform.Throughout the month of October, the Division III Pride is raising funds for Griffin’s Friends Children’s Cancer Fund at Baystate Health Foundation Inc. in honor of Luke Bradley. It is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but assistant football coach Marc Riccio said the football program likes to open up its scope for more than just one form of the disease.“We like to just bring awareness to everybody and to the whole community,” Riccio said. “We brought him on the team. He has his own jersey. Sometimes, we’ll go to his school. We send him letters. He really is a member of our football team.”Bradley suffers from a form of cancer and with the help of Team Impact, a college sports adoption program for kids with life-threatening illnesses, the Pride football team has taken the boy in as their own.This time, though, the football program decided to “draft” Bradley. They gave him his own media day, and set up a press conference with all of the players and coaches in attendance. They even made him sign a contract that promised that he would eat breakfast, make his bed, listen to his parents and do well in school.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We gave him a locker in the locker room, and we put his name up on the scoreboard,” assistant coach Cody Flanigan said. “We tried to show him how important he was going to be to our program.”On Oct. 12, the Pride played its annual Breast Cancer Awareness Day game, this year against Hobart. Each year, the football team raises funds for a different cancer research organization.This year, Springfield decided to donate the money raised through selling pink T-shirts and souvenir helmets to the foundation where Bradley regularly receives treatments. Currently, he is in remission for his cancer.Bradley regularly comes to team practices and trains alongside the players. Sometimes he calls plays from the playbook, other times he is called on to tackle in a scrimmage.For games, Bradley is there for the coin toss and is in charge of taking the tee off of the field after kickoff. Then, he stands and cheers from the sidelines, often next to teammate and running back Andrew Alty.When Bradley was first adopted by the team, Alty had more one-on-one time with him than others because Alty was sitting out due to an injury. Since then, the two have developed a close relationship.“At first, he’s pretty shy, but once you get to know him, he’ll talk your ear off. He’ll say whatever comes to his mind, whatever is funny,” Alty said. “He’s really positive. If people are feeling down, then they’ll see him and they’ll cheer up.”Because Bradley goes to an elementary school a half an hour away, he doesn’t make it to all of the team’s practices. Sometimes, though, the team comes to him instead. The players have gone to play with him at recess or read a story to his class.They’ve built a strong bond with each other since the beginning of the football season, making him as much a part of the team as possible. And they’ve raised just less than $1,000 for his treatment center, still with a week to go in the month of October.“He does just as much for our guys, if not more than what we’re doing for him,” Flanigan said. “Our guys don’t understand, but they have an idea of kind of what he goes through on a daily basis with those treatments.“Our guys are learning a lot from him. It’s pretty special.” Commentslast_img

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