LEXINGTON, Va. –The Blue and White will welcome a very special fan to the sidelines, rooting for the Washington and Lee women's lacrosse team as it takes on Catholic this Saturday.
The Generals first adopted Maggie, now 19-years old, through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) back in 2008. FOJ is a charitable, non-profit organization that strives to enhance and strengthen the support system built around children with pediatric brain tumors. Through the program, adopted children become part of the team and build unique friendships. Children also gain an incredible group of caring role models to look up to when they need the extra support.
"Maggie puts everything in perspective," said senior captain Olive Waxter. "Despite her struggle, she's incredibly positive and an absolute joy to be around. I vividly remember feeling badly about losing games and forgetting all about them the moment I could give Maggie a hug. She's an incredible spark of positive energy and we are so lucky to have her. She makes us all better people, teammates and friends just by supporting our program."
Maggie was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002 at the age of eight. She was taken to the Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., where she was diagnosed with Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma (JPA) and underwent her first surgery that left her physically disabled.
JPA is the most common form of childhood brain tumors, and while the lowest grade, the tumor can prove to be life-threatening depending on the tumor's position in the brain. Often located near centers for vital signs, emotion, movement and sensory development, treatments can often leave a child with long-term neurologic and health impairments.
Since she has been diagnosed, Maggie has continued to undergo surgeries and chemo treatments over the past 12 years to help prevent the tumor from growing. Her physical disabilities made it difficult for her to have close friends to spend time with, until her family found the Friends of Jaclyn Program.
Since joining the W&L women's lacrosse family, Maggie has made lifelong friends. Many of the original team members have graduated, but most still keep in contact with her.
Last season, due to health issues, Maggie was not able to come to W&L's campus as much as everyone would have liked.
"Although last year's team was unable to keep close contact with Maggie due to different health issues, this year we have definitely started out on the right foot," said senior captain Meade Brewster. "We met her in D.C. over Feb Break, a time that really brought us together and set the tone for the great start to our season. Being able to have Maggie as a part of our team is beneficial for us on so many levels. She has a positive outlook on everything and helps us to keep our own perspectives in check. She is an incredible inspiration to us all, and I know that the team will continue to support her as well as enjoy and appreciate her support."
FOJ's programs are based on love, support and friendship between the child, the child's family and his or her "adopted" team. FOJ has completed more than 450 adoptions in more than 20 different sports. They currently have more than 900 schools on a waiting list, as FOJ grows from a small organization into a larger one. For more information, please visit http://friendsofjaclyn.org/.
"FOJ offers kids like Maggie a chance to feel like she belongs and provides friends to help her as she fights this battle," said Maggie's mom. "Maggie has enjoyed a close relationship with the girls over the years. Even after they graduate and move on, the ties are still strong and treasured by Maggie."
Join the women's lacrosse team on Watt Field at 1:00 pm on Saturday to honor Maggie and her family and support the FOJ Foundation. To make a donation to the cause, please visit Washington and Lee's donation page.
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