By: Coy Thompson I first met 11 year old Jayme the week she was diagnosed. It was easy to see that the news of Jayme’s diagnosis made her sad, scared and uncomfortable.
Her mom and grandmother explained that Jayme loved playing basketball and cheerleading. The thought of no longer being able to participate in these activities made Jayme pull the covers over her head, and she hardly made eye contact with anyone in the hospital room. Jayme’s devastation was obvious.
Not only was she unable to take part in the thrill of sports she loved, but she was no longer a member of a team. The idea of missing out on the fun, the camaraderie that comes with being a part of team, was taking a toll on Jayme. But I was certain that Connecting Champions could help. Our goal was to match Jayme with a member of the Duquesne Women’s Basketball team. Though, after a few phone calls it became clear that we weren’t matching Jayme with one member of the team, but with the ENTIRE team!
During the first visit from her new friends, Jayme and the women were already planning the next visit. As soon as she finished her first round of treatment, the whole basketball team invited Jayme to one of their practices! Jayme showed off her shot — and of course her tallness!
On Saturday, January 15th, the Duquesne Women’s Basketball team hosted the “Duke Out Cancer” for Jayme and all those touched by cancer. The entire crowd dressed in pink to show their support for Jayme, and she was the team’s honorary sideline coach for the nationally televised game.
Jayme was in the locker room for the pre-game speech, met WNBA legend Sue Bird, and was even on ESPN! She cheered on the team from special seats on the bench. It was truly awesome!!!
In my opinion, though, the most amazing part of that week wasn’t the game, but what happened next.
Later that week, far away the cameras and cheering fans, several members of the team braved falling snow and messy roads to visit Jayme. She was at the hospital for a five day treatment. They spent their time painting their nails together and chatting about typical “girl stuff” — favorite Disney characters, makeup, hair, and even pre-game rituals.
Their conversations were the sort that teammates would have during bus rides or during breaks at practice.
And now, even though Jayme is going through some tough treatment far away from home, Jayme is part of a team again.