For Immediate Release
January 6, 2012
Courtesy of the Stonehill Athletics Communications Staff and Michael Gelbwasser, Writer for the Sharon Patch
Easton, Mass. - The Stonehill College women's basketball team welcomed its newest teammate on Monday, when it "drafted" Sharon fifth grader Lexi Simoes through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges, Together) in a ceremony at Merkert Gymnasium.
Alexandria "Lexi" Simoes, 12, Sharon
Fifth grader at East Elementary School
Number 100 on the Stonehill College women's basketball team met her teammates and coach, got her jersey and locker and shot hoops in the Skyhawks' gym Monday.
Tuesday, Alexandria "Lexi" Simoes returns to the fifth grade at the East Elementary School.
And they hope to see her play, soon -- for her Special Olympics basketball team in Mansfield.
"If we can come over and watch you play, that would be awesome," Skyhawks head coachTrisha Brown said.
Simoes has "a life threatening illness called Mitochondrial Disease which has affected nearly every system in her body," according to her mother, Heidi Simoes.
Monday, the Skyhawks "drafted" Lexi Simoes through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges Together), "a New England based non-profit serving kids facing life-threatening diseases by creating unparalleled team based support systems," according to its website.
The team members introduced themselves to Simoes in the Merket Gymnasium lobby; led her on a tour of the locker room, where she got her own locker, next to sophomore forward Asia Ewing; and then shot hoops with her on their home court.
Simoes asked her new teammates questions, too. Such as "What are your favorite snacks?"
"This is phenomenal for our team to be able to meet somebody like Lexi, who clearly has so many challenges," Brown said.
"It gives us great perspective. And meeting her for the last 10 minutes, you can tell she's something special. She just is a character. Our team's going to fall in love, if they already haven't."
Heidi Simoes said her daughter was born with her illness, diagnosed at age four, "and it's affecting every system in her body."
Although "she doesn't really have restrictions," Lexi is "not able to eat like other kids. So when she eats at school, it's more of a social eating," Heidi Simoes said.
"(Her) stamina is usually pretty low. It's more of an energy metabolism disorder. Learning is a difficult task for her," she said.
Lexi is treated at Massachusetts General Hospital, Children's Hospital and Tufts, she said.
"We're in Boston sometimes up to four days a week. Minimally one," she said.
Heidi Simoes said Lexi's social worker at MGH's Coordinated Care Clinic e-mailed her asking if the Team IMPACT program interested her.
"The girls have been so receptive to it, and the coach is really excited to draft a child onto their team," said Team IMPACT Director of Medical Outreach Bryan McDavitt. McDavitt and Team IMPACT Director of Outreach and Communications Maura Mahoney attended Monday's draft festivities.