Special Signing: WSU has exclusive Draft Day for 10 year old battling serious illness


    WSU has exclusive Draft Day for 10 year old battling serious illness (WKEF/WRGT)

    FAIRBORN, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Fans in the Nutter Center Thursday night were going wild for more than just the basketball game.

    JJ Hill is just 10 years old, but he's signed on to be Wright State University's newest golfer. While he's a little younger than the rest, he's already proving to be a valuable member of the team.

    WSU has exclusive Draft Day for 10 year old battling serious illness (WKEF/WRGT)

    The night was one that JJ's mother Carly thought might never happen.

    "I've watched him lay in an ICU before and not know," she said.

    The 10 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes three years ago, and is also partially deaf.

    "It's hard to be 10 years old and have to watch and limit everything you do," Carly said, "and not get to do the things that all 10 year olds get to do."

    A national nonprofit is now joining in the first to change that.

    "Team IMPACT matches kids with serious and chronic illnesses to college sport teams across the country," Director of Development Communications for Team IMPACT Mary Callaghan said.

    Wright State is one of 600 colleges in 48 states that are helping create life-long friendships. As a member of the team, JJ is getting the red carpet treatment and his own locker, but that's just the beginning.

    WSU has exclusive Draft Day for 10 year old battling serious illness (WKEF/WRGT)

    He signed his letter of intent with the team during halftime of Thursday night's game in the Nutter Center. The ceremony isn't just symbolic, either.

    "They're at practices, diners, team events," Callaghan said. "They're a part of the fabric of that team and that school, in many cases, for the next two years."

    JJ and other Team IMPACT signees also help their teammates with real-life lessons.

    "They learn so much from these kids battling illnesses," she said. "They realize a tough practice, a tough day at school is nothing when you're watching a child who is fighting for his or her life."

    The friendships made are meant to last a lifetime, including for the Hill family who is already planning a pool part for this summer.

    "He gets this whole new group of fun, energetic guys," Carly said, "and one of them has been through his struggle and can help him when he has those bad days."

    Currently, Team IMPACT has about 1,200 teams waiting to be matched with kids who could use a boost. To find out how to get involved, click here.

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