November 29, 2023
College Signing Day is special for any young athlete, but for one Northeast Ohio seven-year-old, it’s the chance of a lifetime.
Ursuline College STUNT team is partnering with Team Impact to add Natalie*, who lives with juvenile dermatomyositis, to its roster in a special signing ceremony on Wednesday, November 29 at 5:30 p.m. in the College’s Sister Diana Stano Athletic Center.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) is a rare childhood disease that causes muscle weakness and skin rash. It affects about 3,000-5,000 kids in the United States. Most cases occur between the ages of 5 and 10. Girls are more likely than boys to get the disease. While its exact cause is unknown, JDM has much in common with autoimmune disorders, in which a person’s immune system mistakenly attacks the body tissues.
“We’re thrilled to have Natalie as our newest Arrow, “says Ursuline College Athletic Director Cindy McKnight. “She’s going to make a great member of STUNT and we’re grateful to TEAM Impact for sharing this young recruit with us.”
TEAM Impact is a national nonprofit that connects children with serious illnesses or disabilities with college athletic teams. In Natalie’s official recruitment letter, TEAM Impact Chief Executive Officer Seth Rosenzweig explains that empathy, camaraderie, resilience, and boldness are shared values and provide the framework that guides actions and beliefs within an organization. They create a winning formula and are four values at the core of Team IMPACT.
Rosenzweig writes, “They define what it means to be a champion. And you represent all of these values, which is why we are pleased to inform you of your official recruitment to Ursuline College STUNT!”
STUNT is one of the fastest growing female sports in the country and incorporates skills derived from cheerleading. STUNT is an exciting head-to-head game between two teams who execute skills-based routines in various categories – partner stunts, jumps & tumbling, pyramids & tosses, and team routines.
As a team member, Natalie will join in practices and games. She will have UC STUNT team gear and uniforms like the student-athletes. While she will not actually be competing or doing drills, she will be on the sidelines with them and join in other team bonding activities throughout the year.
*Last name withheld at the family’s request.