“These kids gain 20 older brothers or sisters they can lean on.”
Team players: The kids participate in a “draft day” signing ceremony, receive team apparel, and attend practices, games, and other team events.
Place to belong: “They’re not known as the sick kid when they come to their teammates’ practices. They’re not being bullied, they’re not alone in the cafeteria. They gain confidence, they gain strength, courage, communication skills, and social skills.”
Win-win situation: The student athletes become part of the kids’ support teams, as well, visiting them in the hospital and checking in periodically. “The most common comment I hear from the athletes is what a humbling experience it is,” Little says, adding that seeing the hardships these children have to overcome helps college students gain perspective and appreciate their own health.