The fact that the team's latest player, Teddy McGowan, is only 12 years old may raise an eyebrow or two. The fact that the Forestdale youth suffers from a condition known as dysfunctional mitochondria may prompt even more confusion. But the fact that the folks at MMA not only asked Teddy to join their ranks, but showed up in force when he signed with the team should remind each of us that small, and not so small, acts of kindness can truly change the world.
McGowan's medical condition interferes with the conversion of food into energy, the sort of thing that most of us just expect our bodies to do on their own. When the body is unable to do this, it can lead to physical weakness, as well as a host of internal organ problems.
Many people would face this type of situation with a mixture of anger and resignation, but not MMA's youngest lax star. McGowan has more than proven his mettle during his brief years. He lives with a central line that feeds nutrition directly into his body. He has had to undergo surgery to have his colon removed and to be outfitted with a network of tubes to aid his digestion. His mother said that the dysfunctional mitochondria means that he is in the hospital for more than a month, and sometimes two months, every year.
There's no question that the disease has taken its toll on McGowan; he tried to play basketball, but found that the practices and games were too exhausting. But thanks to Team IMPACT, McGowan was able to join the ranks of MMA's lacrosse team. A nonprofit organization, Team IMPACT helps link children who have life-threatening health conditions with sports teams at colleges and universities throughout the Northeast. Nearly a dozen schools throughout the region have already opened their teams and their hearts to the program.
Mass. Maritime certainly did not hold back when it decided to participate. More than 150 students from a variety of athletic teams were on hand when McGowan signed his contract with the lacrosse team. They were there to cheer on their newest teammate as he received his jersey, tried on his helmet, and was shown to his team locker.There's no question that McGowan has a lot of heart, and it is nice to see that his fellow teammates are in the same league. So when everything seems grim and there is little hope that a civil word will make it into the news, remember McGowan and the lacrosse team at MMA, a team that showed how one small act of kindness can redefine what it means to be winners.
Read this story at Cape Cod Times
Originally posted 04/01/2012, Cape Cod Times Editorial
last updated 10-31-12 by email@example.com