5th Grader with Ehlers-Danlos Joins OSU Women’s Hockey Team: Watch VIDEO
Watch this fun video of 10-year-old Erin joining the Ohio State Hockey Team through a program called Team IMPACT. Since Ehlers-Danlos makes Erin more susceptible to injury, it’s unlikely she’ll be able to participate in sports with her peers. But, spending time with the Buckeyes gives Erin the experience of being on a team. Erin has gained the support and comradery of 25 new big sisters! She is hoping to work with the team to raise public awareness about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome in Columbus, Ohio.
By Anna Jeffries.
“In the past two months, Erin Selfe has gained about 25 older sisters.
A fifth-grader at Licking Valley Intermediate, Erin has been adopted by the members of the Ohio State University women’s hockey team.
On Saturday, she signed a letter of intent, making her an official member of the Buckeye family. She’ll attend practices with the team, cheer them on at games and hang out with players.
“We are over the moon to have her and her family involved in the program,” said the team’s head coach, Nate Handrahan. “She brings a smile to everyone’s face. She’s someone who can keep spirits high.”
Erin was offered a spot on the team through Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit organization that matches children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses with college sports teams.
“The goal is to provide them with a support system,” said Duke Little, executive director of the organization. “It gives them an outlet that’s not medically based; they aren’t just focused on going to the doctor.”
In September 2013, Erin was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that affects the strength of muscles, joints, skin and organs.
Her three older siblings, Theresa, Andrew and Katy, also have been diagnosed with the genetic condition.
Although the diagnosis explained some of her symptoms, doctors have determined that she isn’t absorbing the nutrients from the food she eats, but they aren’t sure why.
In the past few months, Erin has had a variety of tests and has been struggling with stress and anxiety. Her grades were slipping and she was feeling depressed, said her mother, Sherry Selfe.
Erin needed something to raise her spirits, and a friend suggested Sherry contact Team IMPACT.
As Kelsey Burke, a regional manager for Team IMPACT, heard Erin’s story, she knew she had the perfect fit.
Burke had been working closely with Kayla Sullivan, a senior on the women’s hockey team, for about a year to try to match the team up with a child.
Pairing Erin with the team was Team IMPACT’s first partnership with OSU, Burke said.
“We thought it would really give her that boost emotionally and take her mind off all she’s gone through,” she said.
Erin first met members of the team when they came by the hospital during one of her tests.
She’s been to several games and practices and is looking forward to going to see the new “Hunger Games” movie with her teammates.
She knows all the nicknames of the players and is learning a lot more about hockey.
“I love it,” she said. ” I like it because it’s more aggressive, even more than football, and it shows the other side of most girls.”
Erin was surprised to find out she would be signing her letter of intent, complete with a news conference and her own jersey. She’ll likely be a member of the team for the next two or three years.
“It lets me know I have a lot of people with me to support me if I need it,” Erin said.
Since Erin became a member of the team in October, her grades have gone up and her mood has improved, Sherry said.
She’s hoping her family can work with the team to raise awareness about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and families struggling with rare or undiagnosed diseases.
Having Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome makes Erin more susceptible to injury, so it’s unlikely she’ll be able to participate in sports with her peers, Sherry said.
Spending time with the Buckeyes gives Erin the experience of being on a team, Sherry said.
“They are supporting our family and helping to make Erin’s dream come true,” she said.
Erin’s bubbly personality makes her a great fit for the team, assistant coach Carson Duggan said.”
“We get so much out of it. She puts things in perspective, and it lightens the room sometimes to see how excited she is,” Duggan said. “I think we gain more than she does from this.”
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit organization matches children with chronic illnesses with college sports teams.
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