A Boston based non-profit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with college athletics teams, has forged a bond between The College of New Jersey and a 7-year-old aspiring athlete from Tabernacle, NJ.
The College of New Jersey Lions Head football Coach Casey Goff introduces the team’s newest recruit. Ian Todd was diagnosed with Spina Bifida in 2011, a rare birth defect that has him bound to a wheelchair.
“Ian’s going to come to games. He’s already been to practice. He’s coming to our game this weekend," Goff said. "We’ll get him involved with other events and get him on campus to hang out with the guys. We want to make him feel as involved as possible with our program and as much like the other guys as he possibly can.
Jacob Todd says his son Ian chose to be on TCNJ’s football team, though his favorite sport is hockey.
“It’s something that I think he will get a love for even though it’s not one of those things he will be able to fully participate in a player," he said. "But I hope that he does develop that love for the game,” he said. “He does play sled hockey. That was my first introduction to teamwork and a family outside of your everyday family was in high school as part of the football team.”
Ian’s mother Pamela Todd says she found out about Team IMPACT and its initiative through a fellow parent with an IMPACT kid.
“I signed him up and then one of the Team IMPACT people kept us in the loop, checking in with all of the colleges to see who and what is available. They came back with two colleges and TCNJ was picked,” she said.
“He had his choice of sport to pick and school to go to based on how far away we live from other colleges. He chose this sport and this college,” Jacob Todd said.
Gavin Liep is a linebacker with TCNJ, working with the Team Impact initiative, introducing Ian to his new teammates.
“We’re having a blast. He’s really awesome. Very energetic. We’re bringing Ian around and showing him what we’re all about and introduction him to the program,” he said.
Coach Casey Goff and the players on the TCNJ football team look forward to embracing the inspiration their new teammate, 7-year-old Ian Todd, will bring them in the locker room and on the field.