Patchogue, N.Y. - The St. Joseph's College women's lacrosse team, in conjunction with the Friends of Jaclyn Organization (FOJ), held the official adoption ceremony for their new little sister, Carissa DiPresso, on Sunday, October 6 on the Dazni Stadium field at the St. Joseph's Outdoor Field Complex. The foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling pediatric brain tumors and to raise awareness about the disease.
FOJ matches children and their families battling pediatric brain tumors with college and high school sports teams. The teams give these children love, support and friendship as they battle the disease.
The lacrosse team first met Carissa when head coach Bob Vlahakis and three players - captain Nicole Lyman, and seniors Karalyn Tetelman & Erin Sullivan - visited the DiPresso house in July. They spent time getting to know Carissa and her big family including her mother, Alison, and six siblings - Adrianna & Brenna (2 1/2 years old), Jacob (3 1/2), Angelina (6), Joseph (8) and Brooke-Lyn (10). There they learned Carissa's story.
The youngster was diagnosed with a brain tumor on January 24 of this year. Shortly afterwards, she underwent three different operations to release the pressure on the brain and reduce the tumor. Then, starting in June and continuing through August, Carissa travelled by train with her mom every day for six weeks to Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to receive radiation treatments.
The players met with her right in the midst of her treatments. Needless to say, Carissa was out of school for the whole second half of her 8th grade year, and then anxiously awaited her clearance from the doctors to start high school at Newfield as a freshman this past September. She was very excited to get the clearance and start high school as a typical student.
On September 11, she had her first MRI scan follow-up to see how the tumor was doing. The results came back and showed no further growth! She now awaits a second scan on December 18th. These scans every three months will determine her future treatments.
Carissa's entire family came with her last Sunday (Oct. 6), to meet the rest of the St. Joseph's College lacrosse team, and the celebration began. They were accompanied by FOJ Executive Director Michele DeLeso and Adoption Coordinator Katherine Johnson.
Carissa and her mom spoke to the team about her situation and then Carissa was presented with an official St. Joseph's College Golden Eagles team sweatshirt personalized with her name on the back. Carissa was invited to attend any of the weekend fall practices with the team, and will be on the sidelines when she can with the team during home games this spring.
The team members have begun texting and communicating with Carissa for the past several weeks and hope to maintain a daily connection with her to keep her spirits up.
Meeting with Carissa and seeing how she is dealing with her situation was a very special experience for the Eagles. They immediately bonded not only with Carissa, but also all her siblings. The team is determined to stick by Carissa as she faces this tough battle head on.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation was started by Denis and Lynda Murphy after their nine-year-old daughter Jaclyn was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and while undergoing treatment, was adopted by the Northwestern University women's lacrosse team. The story can be seen in an HBO special hosted by Bryant Gumbel on his Real Sports TV show which is posted on the FOJ website.