Patriot Softball has adoption ceremony on Saturday (Oct. 2)
FLORENCE, S.C. – The newest member of the Francis Marion University softball squad need not stroke a line drive or make a diving catch to contribute, but needs to just keep smiling. During an adoption ceremony on Saturday (Oct. 2), the Patriots introduced Saharah, a 7-old-year from Chesterfield, as the newest member of the squad.
Saharah and the Patriots were paired together by the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ). Formed in 2005, FOJ is a non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families.
Saharah was born 16 weeks early and spent over four months in NICU. She underwent surgery in 2008 for a Grade 1 Pilocytic Astrocytoma tumor. She still battles medical issues that may be related to her premature birth and/or the tumor and related surgeries.
Saturday’s adoption ceremony, held prior to the softball squad’s annual fall alumni game, included several statements read by Patriot players as well as an introduction by Saharah’s mother Somer. Saharah was presented with gifts including team shirts, a batting tee, bat, and a pink batting helmet and ball. She was also given a bat salute and tunnel to run through, and she threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game.
“To be a part of this organization is something that our girls will never forget, and hopefully something Saharah will always remember,” said FMU seventh-year head coach Stacey Vallee. “Saharah has already brought us so much for the short time she has been a part of our Patriot softball family. We are excited to make it official and we hope she will be a part of us for years to come!
“We love having her come out to practice and games, seeing her hit off the tee, wear a softball helmet, and just run around and be a kid”
The Foundation was inspired by Jaclyn Murphy, who was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, in March 2004 when she was nine-years-old. Jaclyn's strength and courage, relentless spirit, and joy for life are an inspiration to those who know her. Jaclyn's wish is "for all the children in the hospitals to be healed."
Through a due diligence process, FOJ matches a child in need of love, support and friendship with a college or high school sports team based on geographic basis.
After the adoption is completed, the child becomes an extension of the team where a unique bond is formed between the team members, the child and the family. The result of the FOJ adoption is the child feels involved and each individual team member gains insight into the value of helping others. Additionally, FOJ has seen this relationship forge a closer bond among team members magnifying the importance of a team operating as a single unit.
Through the adoption relationship, the child is involved in the team through text messaging, emails, phone calls, facebook and twitter postings.
FOJ has completed over 230 adoptions in over 20 different sports. Currently there are over 1,000 schools on a waiting list as FOJ grows from a small organization into a larger one.
Francis Marion ended its 2010 season with a 36-16 record and earned the program’s second NCAA Division II National Tournament invitation in three seasons. The 2011 squad includes 10 returnees and 14 newcomers. Ten of the Patriots hail from the Palmetto State.