UCM Team IMPACT Connects Students with Kids Facing Life-Threatening Illnesses
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Dec. 2, 2013) – Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization that is chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses. Team IMPACT children are drafted on to local college athletic teams and, to the greatest extent possible, become an official member of the team. The University of Central Missouri is planning to get involved with Team IMPACT and will formally announce the program Dec. 5 during the Mules home basketball game at the Multipurpose Building.
Since its inception in April 2011, more than 400 kids have participated in Team IMPACT and UCM will be among the first in Missouri to implement this project. In addition, UCM will be among the first schools to incorporate teams outside of Intercollegiate Athletics, according to Kyle Shell, a graduate student and UCM student member of the Board of Governors who is involved in the project.
Team IMPACT has strong roots in the Northeast and has recently expanded into the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest. This gives UCM an opportunity to be one of a growing number of schools to provide courageous kids with opportunities to experience the camaraderie that comes from being a valued team member, while gaining a much-needed diversion from the harsh realities of the medical issues they face daily.
“This is an extraordinary opportunity for UCM to make a difference in the lives of children who face huge social and physical adversities that can make them feel disconnected with others,” said UCM President Charles Ambrose. “We’re especially grateful to Kyle Shell, who has taken a leadership role in this initiative. He is passionate about the value of this program and understands how teamwork builds qualities such as strength, character and friendships that will benefit everyone involved.”
Shell has worked with the Team IMPACT organization and a committee of campus members, including Ambrose, to make the program possible at Central Missouri. Shell added efforts are already underway to help identify and place the first child with a UCM team. The initial placement will likely include participation with a university athletic team, but he envisions opportunities in the future for qualified participants to be part of other performing arts groups or teams in specific academic areas where there is a strong student interest.
Amy Resnick, a national representative of Team IMPACT, said the organization is pleased to expand its reach in the Midwest.
“I can't express how excited Team IMPACT is to partner with the University of Central Missouri,” she said. “The willingness of UCM to sign on as an athletic department and as a campus speaks volumes to their collective commitment to the community. This partnership serves as a major boost in our mission to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses in the Midwest."
According to Resnick, Team IMPACT works closely with a network of medical professionals to raise awareness of the program, and this network will play an important role in identifying families and children who could benefit from the program. To meet general eligibility requirements, a child must have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and have been undergoing a range of medical treatments (within the past two to three years) that involve considerable time and extended stays in the hospital. The medical condition must have had an adverse impact on the child’s ability to participate in certain athletic, social and academic activities, and have had an adverse impact on the child’s development (physically, academically, socially or psychologically).
Once a child is selected, there will be a special “draft day” for the child and his or her parents to visit campus and to be officially welcomed to the team. As the relationship between the child and team progresses, the child will attend practices, games or other team-based activities. Team members also may keep in touch with the youth through hospital visits, social media interaction, inviting them to special team events and more.
Shell said he is honored to help establish UCM Team IMPACT because it “will offer our students an outlet to make a real difference in the lives of children suffering from chronic illnesses.”
“Getting involved in this program enhances my pride in my campus community and reminds me why I ‘Chose Red’ and now, to be a Mule,” he added. “With team IMPACT, UCM is furthering its tradition of a service-oriented community committed to caring for those less fortunate."
To learn more about UCM Team Impact, please visit the web at www.goteamimpact.org.