Seven-year-old Eva Fox has had a rough couple of years. She became very ill and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, resulting in never-ending medical visits.
But now Eva, who is in remission, has yet another reason to smile.
She and her twin sister, Grace, were recently signed to the women’s volleyball team at Stonehill College through Team IMPACT, or Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges Together.
The Quincy-based nonprofit matches children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses with collegiate athletic teams. More than 575 children have been paired with about 300 schools in 42 states.
Eva, of Pembroke, was diagnosed with leukemia in February of 2012. After her initial six-week stay at the hospital, she was re-hospitalized for a month in the intensive care unit with pancreatitis.
This April, Eva improved with treatment and was declared to be in remission. She still makes regular visits to the clinic, but her treatment is in the maintenance phase.
Better than going to see the doctor, Eva can now visit her teammates at Stonehill College in Easton, something her mother said brings her a lot of joy.
“This opportunity gives the girls lots to look forward to and they are so excited to interact with the girls on the team,” Jennifer Fox said.
The girls were so excited about meeting their teammates that they made sure they knew all about them going into the day they were signed.
“The girls scoured the website and we looked at the girls’ pictures and read a bit about them,” Fox said. “They were really looking forward to meeting everyone and the signing experience was even better than we all had hoped.”
The volleyball team decided last year that they wanted to sign a child through Team IMPACT, but they had to wait for a match. Then Eva came along last month, and they didn’t want to leave her twin sister out.
“Just the excitement that they brought and seeing my players’ faces was really exciting,” coach Laura Amundson said. “It was so much fun.”
Delia Phillips, a junior captain, said it was exciting learning that the team found a match.
“Just getting to interact with her at a more personal level, seeing how happy she became, it just warmed our hearts,” Phillips said. “We can’t stop talking about it.”
The match through Team IMPACT isn’t the first for Stonehill. The volleyball team is the eighth team to take on the commitment, something Athletic Director Brendan Sullivan said is a tremendous show of character.
“They walk in not knowing what to expect often,” Sullivan said. “They think they’re just going to meet a team of 15 volleyball players; yet, they’re treated as the star of the day, as they deserve to be.”
Although volleyball is now in the off season, Amundson said they will invite Eva and Grace to non-volleyball activities the team does.
Their mother said they are anticipating their next visit to Easton.
“They ask every couple of days when we will get to see the girls again,” Fox said. “They wear the T-shirts and sweatshirts the team gave them and can’t wait to get together with the girls again.”