Feb. 13, 2014
The wait was long, but well worth it.
Years after signing up to adopt a child through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, the University of Minnesota women's basketball team finally received the news in early 2014 that they were paired up with Aubrey King, a 12-year-old from Chaska who has been living with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a pediatric brain tumor, since she was three years old.
"We are so fortunate and so honored to have this opportunity," Head coach Pam Borton said. "It is so easy to get caught up in results and the day-to-day grind, but having a member of the team with a brain tumor really puts things into perspective for us as a basketball family."
Aubrey was officially adopted by the Gophers on Saturday, Feb. 8, where she was presented with an official team jersey, given her own locker in the team locker room and honored with a pizza party with the entire team, including Borton and her coaching staff.
"To see the strength that this 12 year old has, going through chemo and putting on a brave face every day; that inspires all of us," Borton said. "Her strength is contagious."
With over 1,200 athletic teams at both the high school and collegiate level on the waiting list to adopt children through Friends of Jaclyn, the Gophers were fortunate to have the opportunity to provide love, support and friendship to Aubrey during her ongoing battle against her disease.
The relationship between Aubrey, her family and the Gopher family does not end when the season ends, as Aubrey will be a permanent member of the Minnesota women's basketball team and will be seen at practices, at games and team functions.
Aubrey was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2005, at the age of three, and shortly after had surgery to remove part of the growth. Over the last eight years, she has been on and off with four different chemotherapy regimens, most recently starting her fourth in May at the Mayo Clinic.
Through the surgery performed in 2005, doctors were able to remove about half of her tumor. Nerve damage from surgery left her with hearing loss in her left ear, a paralyzed left vocal cord and a partially paralyzed palette. Though they are minor problems in the big picture, she will have to manage these losses throughout her life.
Aubrey and her family must continually monitor her tumor growth and will eventually need to decide when it is time for another surgery and brain/spine radiation. Even with the tumor, she remains a happy, otherwise very healthy, seventh grader.
The newest member of the Gopher squad is a black belt in karate and loves to ice skate. Her favorite class at Chaska Middle School East is gym.
Contributions to Aubrey's medical care can be sent to: KleinBank Attn: Aubrey King Benefit Acct 120 Pioneer Trail Chaska, MN 55318
The Mission of Friends of Jaclyn
The mission of Friends of Jaclyn is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling pediatric brain tumors and to raise awareness about this insidious disease.
How do we do this? Friends of Jaclyn Foundation pairs up 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 fight this devastating disease. We celebrate each day by creating lasting relationships between student athletes, the child, and their families. This greatly improves the quality of life for children with brain tumors, as well as those who support them.
To learn more about the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation visit www.friendsofjaclyn.com.
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