Monday, December 17, 2012
The Rider University baseball team has had 45 players drafted in the last 40 years, but finally drafted one for themselves on December 5. The Broncs hope their choice will have a profound impact on their team, as well as a young Bristol, Pa., boy. By doing so, the Broncs became the first of Rider’s 20 varsity teams to join Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses.
Across the northeast, Team IMPACT creates unparalleled team based support systems. Core to their model is harnessing the power of teamwork by matching these courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto local college athletic teams and become an official member of the team for the duration of their treatment and beyond.
Rider’s “draft choice “was 10-year-old Raymond Key, a 10-year old diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common form of leukemia found in children, in January 2011. While other kids are playing Little League or fishing in the nearby Delaware River, Raymond is in his third year of a four-year program consisting of chemotherapy, steroids and other medications.
“It is an opportunity to help someone in a time where they may need something to lift their spirits during a rough time,” said Rider head coach Barry Davis. “It helps us all realize how important it is to live our lives not taking anything or anyone for granted.”
But Raymond enjoys his favorite food, pizza, likes R&B music as well as SpongeBob SquarePants, and has a pet cat named Winnie Dixie. He might not be playing Little League right now, but he’s playing Call of Duty on his Xbox. He “is thrilled to join the Rider baseball team” and enjoyed meeting all of his ‘new teammates,’ he told Team IMPACT.
“We are excited to have Raymond on our team,” Davis said, “and this year each member of the Rider baseball team, including our coaches and trainers, will wear an orange wrist band supporting Leukemia Awareness.”
Raymond previously met six Broncs, a leadership team consisting of Mike Murphy ’14, Tim Hogan ’13, Ian Lindsay ’13, Chris LeRoy ’13, Eric Thomas ’15 and Brian Donnelly ’16. Like Raymond, the team is excited about their new addition:
“I wanted to become a part of Team IMPACT after reading about what Raymond has gone through and his passion for baseball,” Thomas said. “When I first met Raymond, he was shy, but he seemed to become more comfortable around me and the other leaders very quickly.”
“This process is creating a tighter knit group of guys than we already were and Raymond is the reason,” said Murphy, the 2012 MAAC Pitcher of the Year and Rider Athlete of the Year. “I saw this as a great opportunity to use the leadership skills that I’ve learned playing baseball here at Rider, for a good cause. I felt like it was a perfect way to give back using the game I love.”
“I used to help out with the Special Olympics, so when this opportunity came up, to make an impact on someone else’s life, I jumped at it,” Donnelly said. “Raymond is awesome. He was a little but shy and timid at first, as expected, but as we spent more time with him and when his mom left the locker room, he started to open up. He has a great personality. So great, in fact, he was worthy of a nickname after the first hour - Ray Man. He was a joy to have around, was able to make us all laugh, and I speak for all of us when I say we are all looking forward to our future get-togethers with him."
“The team is happy to have him and we will be playing for Raymond this year,” said Lindsay, a 2012 All-MAAC selection. “His locker will be with all of ours every game. I know he has the same enthusiasm that we do for this upcoming season.”
“I have been close to people that have fought with cancer and I felt this would be a great way to help out a good kid and get more involved with the cause,” LeRoy said.
“I can kind of relate to his family because of my own experiences and I think that was important in my decision as well because I know how hard his situation can be on a family,” Hogan said. “I believe that both Raymond and the team with benefit from this. We can both serve as inspiration to each other in that he can look up to us as role models and hope to one day be a student-athlete like us and achieve his goals. Raymond can also serve as an example for us to not give up and to fight through any tough obstacles that come our way.”