In 2004, Jaclyn Murphy (pictured second from left), a lively 9-year-old who loved to play lacrosse, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. While undergoing treatment, she developed a relationship with the lacrosse players at Northwestern University who gave her love, support and friendship. She assured her parents, “I am going to play lacrosse again when I get well.”
The Northwestern Wildcats made the young athlete an honorary member. They invited her to games, text messaged her during hospital appointments and adopted her as their little sister. That year, the Wildcats won the national title, Northwestern’s first NCAA championship in 64 years, inspired by Jaclyn.
Jaclyn told her parents that she wanted other children with brain tumors to experience the joy of being an honorary team member. In 2005, Denis and Lynda Murphy started the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which pairs pediatric cancer patients with college and high school athletic teams.
Jaclyn, now a freshman at Marist College, has seen her foundation match more than 400 kids with teams in 28 sports throughout the country. The children and athletes inspire each other to meet challenges both big and small.”