by Addie Harris '15
On September 14, the Williams College football team drafted Brodie Vanaman, a six-year-old from Bennington, Vermont, who suffers from hormone growth deficiencies.
Brodie and the football Ephs were brought together through Team IMPACT, a New England based non-profit that pairs children with a variety of medical challenges with college sports teams. The Williams football team is the sixth Eph team to draft a member of Team IMPACT into their program.
Kevin Barbary '14 and Ayo Ekhator '15 met Brodie and some of his family members on campus at the Paresky Center. They gave Brodie a Williams' football, a team hat and other gear and played catch with Brodie on the Paresky lawn prior to the team draft meeting.
Eph head football coach Aaron Kelton joined the Eph football players, Brodie, and his family on the Paresky lawn and escorted the group to Griffin Hall for a team meeting. As Brodie entered the room the Eph team members and coaches greeted him with a standing ovation.
Kevin Barbary introduced Brodie to the team by explaining that he was the team's newest addition. Coach Kelton then had Brodie sign a "letter of intent", gave him a football team t-shirt and told him, "As a part of the team, all of the guys in the room are here to support you. You're on our team now."
Next Brodie's mom, Lisa Allen, explained how Brodie must receive multiple shots every night to help combat his hormone growth deficiencies. The Eph team was noticeably struck by this information. After a few pictures to commemorate the draft, a lot of handshakes and high fives were exchanged when Brodie agreed to support the team by coming back for practices and games.
After the draft and meeting the team, Brodie's mom Lisa commented that, "Brodie had such a good time. I'm so thankful for Team IMPACT. They have a great program and really give our little ones with special needs something to look forward to."
This relationship is just budding and everyone involved will benefit. Ayo Ekhator commented, "Team IMPACT is an opportunity to make a difference in Brodie's life, much in the same way that Eph football has impacted each of our lives. There's nothing like being a part of the team and we're incredibly fortunate to be the ones to help Brodie experience that."
Kevin Barbary mirrored Ekhator's excitement by saying, "Brodie is a great kid who loves football and we are psyched to have him be a part of our team moving forward. Being a part of the Williams football program is a unique privilege and we couldn't be happier to welcome one more guy to share the experience with."
Brodie and the Williams football team will learn from each other throughout the season and lean on each other when necessary.
To date, Team IMPACT has impacted thousands of people matching teams with children on over 160 campuses. Moving forward, Team IMPACT's primary goal is to find new children to be matched with teams.
More information on Team IMPACT can be found at www.goteamimpact.org.