At the Team Impact’s Philadelphia gala, one theme was prominent: community. Athletes, coaches, community members, children who have been part of the program and executives at team IMPACT came together to celebrate the commitment of Big 5 basketball schools.
Team Impact is a non-profit founded in 2011 by a group of former college students in Boston, that has now expanded to many major cities and universities. Their mission focuses on matching children with disabilities or serious illnesses with collegiate sports teams to create bonds the children and athletes will never forget.
The organization was inspired by Co-Founder Jay Calnan’s brother Chris, who has a condition that has prevented him from participating in sports, and was given the opportunity to be a bat boy for a Boston Red Sox minor league affiliate. This experience inspired Calnan and seven of his college friends to reconnect and establish Team Impact.
The event opened with a “tailgate,” which saw all people present walking around the venue, socializing and mingling, as the hall was filled with community members wearing college apparel for their respective Big 5 school. Following the tailgate, the attendees filed into a large hall to hear speakers from Team IMPACT.
The presentation was opened by IMPACT Co-CEO Brad Korman who introduced the IMPACT Philly goals and successes with possible donors and community members, showing emotional videos demonstrating the good the organization has already done in the U.S.
Following Korman’s introduction, sixteen-year-old Jacob Orlick took the stage to talk about his battle with cancer and being a part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Men’s Basketball Team. Throughout his time on stage, Jacob showed his speaking chops presenting his great humor with an uplifting story of beating cancer, and how creating bonds with the UPenn basketball players and coach changed both his and the athletes mindsets.
Ever since his match with the team has ended, Jacob has found his passion in broadcasting, saying “It’s my passion and always has been,” while giving thanks to the UPenn team for helping him realize he could still be a part of athletics as he’s always desired. Jacob’s emotional yet hilarious speech was a tearjerker for many, especially with his line, “I’m Jacob. I’m just me.”
Following Jacob’s presentation, all six Big 5 schools were honored and acknowledged for the work they do before Josh Walker, Executive Director of the Mid-Atlantic region, closed out the presentation.
When I spoke with Josh prior to the event, he could not be happier with the work Big 5 schools, including Drexel had already done to implement and strengthen Team IMPACT’s mission.
“Tonight’s event is a celebration of the work that the schools in Philadelphia have been doing for kids in local children’s hospitals,” Walker said. “[Philadelphia] is a community of support and through college athletics, we’re making matches that change these kids’ lives.”