Hartford, Conn. - Trinity College fields some of the most successful varsity sports teams in the nation, including the Bantam football and softball squads. In football, Trinity's 2012 season culminated in a dramatic 30-24 win at rival Wesleyan to clinch its sixth league title in the last 11 years and a perfect 8-0 record. Bantam softball has won 20-plus games in four of the last eight years and missed the league playoffs in 2013 by a single game. There are many athletes who would jump at the chance to become a member of such a successful teams. Earlier this spring, three very special young sports fans were offered just that.
The Bantam football squad gathered in Trinity's McCook Auditorium early in the spring semester to welcome two very special new teammates, Justin Bolduc, who was matched with the Bantams through Team IMPACT, and Justin's older brother Connor, a center and nose guard for his Bristol, Conn. youth football team. As the brothers signed letters of intent, Trinity Head Coach Jeff Devanney announced to the crowded auditorium that the brothers, along with their parents, were "committing to becoming members of the Trinity Football Family.". Trinity softball celebrated the addition of five-year-old Leilani Aniban, who was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia four years ago to their team early in its season with a welcome party in Ferris Athletic Center.
Team IMPACT is a non-profit that matches children facing life-threatening or chronic illness with college athletic teams. The Quincy, Mass. based company has matched children with teams across New England and is currently working to expand beyond the Northeast into the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.
Three-year-old Justin was diagnosed last summer with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a form of muscular dystrophy that worsens quickly and is only found in boys. Though Justin can run and play like any other three-year-old, he and his family have a long road ahead of them that will hopefully be made a bit more enjoyable as they spend time with the Trinity football team. The boys received their very own jerseys, have been invited to all of the team's practices and games, and are looking forward to doing some fun activities off of the field with the team.
Upon diagnosis, Leilani was given a 22% chance of survival and began treatment right away. She then spent the next two years undergoing intense chemotherapy and lived at the hospital for close to 18 months while receiving the necessary treatment. Fortunately she is now in remission, and Leilani makes regular trips to the clinic for blood work to ensure she maintains her remission and will slowly transition away from the regular hospital visits in the next few years. Trinity softball hopes that Leilani's interactions with them will help her develop socially as she assimilates herself back among her peers classmates and peers.
Anyone looking to get involved or know a family that would like to learn more about Team IMPACT can email Emily Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out Team IMPACT's website at www.goteamimpact.org.
written by Emily Johnson '14