SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (January 18, 2019) – The Western New England University women's lacrosse team partnered with Team IMPACT to sign 11-year old Zoe Shepard of Windsor Locks, Conn. on Thursday evening in a draft day celebration at the Alumni Healthful Living Center.
Zoe's family, as well as members of the women's lacrosse team and athletic administration were present as Zoe signed an official letter of intent to join the Golden Bears' program.
As an official member of the team, Zoe will attend practices, games, team dinners, events and more.
Zoe was diagnosed at birth with a blood disorder (hereditary spherocytosis) which causes her red blood cells to have an abnormal shape and forces her spleen to work to destroy them. This has resulted in complications including anemia, enlargement of her spleen, and jaundice. Zoe had her gall bladder removed when she was eight years old because her condition caused her to develop gallstones.
Zoe enjoys sports including soccer, basketball and archery, and she is a big Red Sox fan. She also plays trumpet in the school band.
Zoe lives at home with her parents, her big brother Nick, and her family dogs, Macie and Ella.
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, MA that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom.