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Marist students organizes Friends of Jacyln Foundation

By Timothy Gilbert
On February 28, 2013

There seems to be a common factor among the overwhelming number of modern active charities; these   organizations always seem to dedicate incredible amounts of resources in the search for advanced forms of medicine, treatment techniques and types of a cure. The "Friends of Jaclyn Foundation," however, has an entirely different set of priorities. This organization was founded in 2006 by current Marist freshman, Jaclyn Murphy, and her father, to help improve the quality of life of children diagnosed with brain tumors. They do not focus on a cure, or treatment, their first and only priority is to make these sick kids happy.

At the young age of 9, Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, or a malignant brain tumor. The news rocked her family; this vicious disease is the number one killer of children under eighteen, and its presence sadly condemned the child to surgery and weeks of sickening treatment. 

Prior to this treatment Jaclyn was an avid soccer and lacrosse player. Once she began chemotherapy, however, this all changed. The sickness began to take a toll on the spirits of Jaclyn and her family.

"It's an insidious disease," said Denis Murphy, Jaclyn's father.

Through the marathon of chemotherapy cycles Jaclyn's father would attempt cheer her up by pointing to a picture of a lacrosse player on the hospital wall and say "You're going to be like that one day."

"Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the ninth floor, is the saddest place in the world," said Denis Murphy in an interview to HBO's "Real Sports," "It's where heaven and hell meet."

 The Murphy family was forced to familiarize themselves with this area during their extensive treatment stays.

Day after day they would pass that wall and Denis would repeat the same thing, hoping to lift the mood of his beloved child.

This ritual continued on for weeks, until one day Jaclyn received a package full of good wishes from members of the Northwestern women's lacrosse team. Apparently, a family friend of the Murphy's had gotten in contact with the head coach of girls lacrosse over at Northwestern, Kelly Amonte, and told her Jaclyn's story. Moved by the tale the team promptly declared Jaclyn an honorary team member.

This sign of love inspired young Jaclyn to go visit the team as soon as she could. Leading her to an inspirational meeting with the girls, one that did wonders for Jaclyn's spirits

After coming home from her uplifting meeting with the lacrosse team, Jaclyn was thrown back into the wretched routine of treatment. She was back experiencing hell, except this time there was one significant difference, this time she was filled with the constant support of her new teammates over at Northwestern.

 She was glued to her phone; texting her new friends through the good times and the bad.

One day, Jaclyn was feverishly texting her friends, when a girl sitting in the waiting room near her noticed her popularity. The girl asked Jaclyn who she was texting, before being taken in to see her doctor. It was at that moment that Jaclyn knew what had to be done. She knew that she had to get this girl a team.

Today, the Jaclyn foundation has grown immensely. They currently have over 384 adopted children to 31 different collegiate sports, and even by professional surfer Dylan Perillo has adopted a child.

Through all the publicity and attention the "Friends of Jaclyn" organization has gained immense notoriety among sports teams all over the country. There is a waiting list of over 1200 teams, all eager to love their adopted teammate.

The work the foundation does can change the lives of the young adoptees more than any scientific form of healing.

"No chemo, no radiation, no clinical trial drug is more important than love, support and friendship," said Denis Murphy.

The "Friends of Jaclyn" organization has two component programs which make it up: Adopt-a-Child and "Safe on the Sidelines."

Jaclyn's younger sister, Taryn, started the program "Safe on the Sidelines," which has its own set of similar goals, essentially pairing the distraught sibling of a child with a brain tumor with a collegiate team.

Children with brain tumors often require immense amount of attention and care. According to, Denis Murphy, siblings "Often get lost in the shuffle." This is a serious issue and it is "Safe on the Sidelines" goal to make sure they get the attention and acceptance they need.

The love and friendships forged though the Friends of Jaclyn foundation has positively changed the lives of hundreds of children over the past few years. The quality of life that this organization helps promote is a priceless asset to these struggling families. Even though the foundation does not concern itself with research and development, the impact it is creating is unbounded.





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