While it may sound cliche, sports really can lift a community, inspire individuals and bring about good in the world. The story of Jaclyn Murphy is a perfect example.
As a child, Murphy grew a brain tumor. Struggling and sick, every day when she went to the hospital, her and her father would pass a photo of Maryland women’s lacrosse players celebrating. And every day, her father would tell her that one day it will be her. It gave her something to strive for, something to hope for, something to hold on to while going through hell as a child.
That inspiration turned into a love with Northwestern women’s lacrosse, and soon Murphy connected with the team, becoming quite literally a part of the Northwestern women’s lacrosse family. She went to games. She texted with all the coaches and players. She had dinners with the team. She became their little sister … and with Murphy as their inspiration, Northwestern went on to win five straight national championships. And Murphy was there through it all.
Then, one day at the hospital, she stopped and looked at that photo of the Maryland team celebrating and noticed something remarkable — the young woman in the photograph was none other than Northwestern head coach Kelly Amonte Hiller during her All-American days at Maryland, the woman who embraced a young Murphy and made her a part of the Northwestern team.
If that story doesn’t send chills down your spine and bring joy to your heart, something is terribly wrong.
But that’s not the end of the story. Now 19 and in college, Murphy is healthy and living the life of a normal college student. And thanks to her remarkable story and Northwestern’s amazing lacrosse team, she and her father started the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which connects children with brain tumors with college sports teams, giving them the hope and joy and special relationships that Murphy experienced herself with Northwestern lacrosse.
That is the power of sports. Where some people see brutish behavior and arguing fans, others see all the good that sports can bring about in the world. Jaclyn Murphy and her friends are proof of the latter.
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