Team IMPACT helps men’s basketball sign Cystic Fibrosis patient Luke Giuffrida

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Team IMPACT helps men’s basketball sign Cystic Fibrosis patient Luke Giuffrida

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Cheers and applause echoed through Suffolk University’s Regan Gymnasium early Thursday evening as Luke Giuffrida picked up his black-ink pen. This wasn’t NBA Draft Day but the 7-year-old’s excitement could have rivaled it.

Giuffrida spent much of that day undergoing treatments and visiting with doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital. He has faced Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic disorder affecting the lungs and digestive system, since he was born, but Thursday, it wasn’t the respiratory manifestations or the countless medications that held his focus.

“It was a draining day,” said Luke’s mother, Sherry Giuffrida. “But you know what he kept saying … ‘Is it 5 o’clock yet? My team’s waiting for me at 5 o’clock.’”

Luke became an official member of the men’s basketball team on Thursday as he signed a letter of intent alongside Coach Adam Nelson, Rams players, and surrounded by members of the athletic department.

“He is as excited as a kid can get,” Sherry Giuffrida said. “He’s been looking forward to it all week long.”

The signing was orchestrated by Team IMPACT, an organization that matches children facing chronic illnesses with sports teams who serve as mentors and a positive light for the children otherwise dealing with physical adversities.

“Serendipity, call it whatever you want,” said Mary Welker, Regional Manager of Team IMPACT in Massachusetts. “We happened to get someone in this area who was looking for a team at that time, a basketball fan, and it worked. It’s perfect for both [Luke and the team]. Luke was really looking for that big brother comradery. People think that Team IMPACT is about sports but it’s not really, it’s about the team, it’s about that comradery.”

Luke’s mother noted the relief the program has brought her son since joining the team over a month ago, although not officially signing until this week.

“It really gives that sort of positive, exciting, happy thing to look forward to when you’re dragging your butt through Children’s hospital, or through another episode of lung therapy, or the tons of medications that he’s on,” said Luke’s mother. “This really just gives that positive reinforcement that, if you can get through everything you have to do, you get to have a lot of fun over here with this team.”

Read the full story to learn more about Luke’s big night as a Ram in next week’s issue.

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