BOSTON, Mass. - Will Lacey is only 8 years old, but he still has his own locker alongside the rest of the University of Massachusetts Boston men’s hockey team. Jake Parker is 7, but that didn’t stop the Beacons baseball team from drafting him. And 17-year-old Terry Agnant is the youngest member of the UMass Boston basketball team.
This year, UMass Boston has partnered with Team IMPACT, a nonprofit group that aims to improve the quality of life for children with serious illnesses by matching them to team-based sports. Will, Jake, and Terry are part of Team IMPACT, and now they’re part of UMass Boston.
Jake Parker has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a muscle depletion disorder in which muscles get weaker and weaker with age. The Braintree resident, who will turn 8 in December, is in the Braintree Little League Challenger Division. It’s a baseball program for children with physical and developmental disabilities across the South Shore. He signed with the UMass Boston baseball team in a draft day ceremony held November 17. Jake received a jersey with No. 14--his favorite number.
“Jake loved seeing the players again at draft day. The signs, the balloons and the pizza were all a hit! Signing the ‘contract’ was a big plus, and we took it home to frame it,” said Jake’s mom, Michelle Parker. “Having the players friend his dad on Facebook was cool, and we were able to share pics with the guys. He's looking forward to throwing out the first pitch on game day back at UMass Boston.”
Will Lacey has been receiving treatment for neuroblastoma since he was an infant. According to the Beat NB Cancer Foundation, neuroblastoma is the most common cancer and infants and toddlers, and it is often fatal. If a child relapses, there is no cure.
Will, who is a third grader at Flaherty Elementary School in Braintree, was on the ice for the men’s hockey home opener on November 3. Hockey is Will’s passion: he’s a forward for Braintree Youth Hockey and his dad says he loves playing ice hockey, street hockey, and video games involving hockey.
“His favorite video game is NHL 13, and he has created his own team with him, a few of his friends, and he has now been adding the Beacons roster. When playing street hockey with his friends, they are NHL stars and he is one of his favorite Beacon players,” Pat Lacey said.
Terry Agnant is the newest member of the Beacons basketball roster. The Brockton resident has had sickle cell anemia, a genetic blood disorder where mutated cells inhibit regular blood flow, which can cause excruciating pain throughout the body.
Jake, Will, and Terry will be a part of their respective teams through the end of the season.
“One of the best parts of hockey–for me to see as his dad–is the fact that he just gets to be part of a team. He gets geared up, pulls on that helmet, and goes out there and gets the same treatment and has the same expectations placed on him as all of his teammates. It is one of the few places that is true and one of the greatest gifts we have received–truly being part of a team,” Pat Lacey said.
For more information about Team IMPACT and the newest members of the Beacons family go to http://www.goteamimpact.org/index.php.