Delaware Women’s Lacrosse Team Draws Inspiration From Childhood Leukemia Survivor
May 31, 2012
NEWARK, Del. – When members of the University of Delaware women’s lacrosse team face daily struggles both on and off the field, the Blue Hens look to their “hero,” 11-year old leukemia survivor Abby Supplee, for inspiration and hope.
The team adopted Abby as their B+ Hero last January as part of the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which honors the life of 14-year-old Andrew McDonough, who battled leukemia and sepsis before passing on July 14, 2007. Andrew, the cousin of former UD lacrosse standout Kalyn McDonough, was a B+ blood type, which the foundation turned into a perfect message – Be Positive – to reflect how he lived his life and inspires others to do the same.
The first varsity UD Athletics team to adopt a B+ Hero, the women’s lacrosse team has now been avid volunteers of the B+ Foundation for over two years, during which the squad has raised $4,000 for the cause.
“It has been awesome to see B+ grow,” said Kalyn McDonough, who remains a community service liaison to the women’s lacrosse team after facilitating the squad’s initiative to get involved with the organization. “My cousin Andrew was an outgoing, athletic, and kind kid. Seeing the great acts B+ does in his name continues to keep his memory with us. It was especially fulfilling to see the women's lacrosse team adopt a B+ hero. Abby has been such a great addition to our team, and I think both the team and Abby love the experience. She may be the youngest player on the team, but she's still the MVP.”
Abby was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia) on March 15th, 2005, when she was only five years old. Her battle with cancer was a long one as she underwent treatment for over two years. As of May 12, 2012, Abby reached a five-year cancer-free milestone, and can finally say she is cured.
As a current fifth grader, Abby enjoys playing soccer, the piano, art, and reading. After having the opportunity to participate in practices and pregame events with UD women’s lacrosse, she has also begun to play intramural lacrosse at school.
The Blue Hen lacrosse team has made Abby an honorary team member, which includes having her very own locker in the women’s lacrosse locker room. Abby and the team have participated in numerous events together in the past year, which include going to lunch, holiday parties, and various school events. In addition, Abby has attended several practices and clinics with the Blue Hens, during which she had the opportunity to learn stick skills from members of the team
“Getting to know Abby and her family and what great people they are and what type of illness she went through and conquered makes little struggles like going to practice every day or pushing through the end of a 60-minute game seem like nothing,” said junior Angela Biciocchi, a first team All-CAA and IWLCA Mid-Atlantic Region second team selection this past spring. “Abby really opened our eyes to that and made us realize not to take things for granted.”
Delaware also held its second annual B+ Foundation Awareness game against Penn State on March 10 at Delaware Stadium this year to help raise money and awareness. Abby and her friends were honored during pre-game ceremonies as part of the lineup announcements.
“It was really cool because they made me feel like I was part of the team,” said Abby. “My favorite part was when I went to the game and went down on the field. We all went in the circle and when they called their names the team went around and high-fived us.”
For the second straight year, the team participated in UDance, the largest student-run philanthropy at the University of Delaware, which partners with the B+ Foundation to host a 12-hour dance-a-thon event to raise awareness and funds for the fight against childhood cancers.
The goal for UDance - Dancing Today to Give the Kids a Tomorrow – illustrates the core of the B+ Foundation, to “live like Andrew,” bringing students, heroes, and their families together for the cause. This year, the Blue Hens lacrosse squad raised over $2,000 – more than any other athletic team – as part of a record-setting $455,000 total raised by the entire University as the team danced the day away with Abby.
“We’ve really enjoyed our experience supporting that foundation as it was a personal connection with one of our former players,” said Delaware head coach Kateri Linville. “I think it was exciting for us this year to make a personal connection with a survivor and make her part of our lacrosse family. We look forward to being part of the B+ Foundation in the coming years and hope to continue to raise awareness and make a positive impact in the lives of our heroes."