This is a story about an 8 year old little boy from Southern Pennsylvania whose bravery and personality should be a lesson to us all. 8 year old A.J. Bobby who is battling childhood leukemia became part of a family outside of his own family this past 2012 lacrosse season and that experience touched the lives of not only A.J. and his family but all of his new teammates, coaches, and fans as well.
In the spring of 2012 a Maryland based non profit organization called StrongHope Foundation connected young A.J. and the Calvert Hall Varsity Boys Lacrosse Team. StrongHope Foundation is a registered 501 c3 non profit charitable organization that raises funds and awareness for pediatric cancer.
A special part of what StrongHope is doing is called the Team Ambassador Program. This program pairs children who are fighting or have recently fought cancer with teams that honor them for their bravery and support them during a difficult time in their life. These teams ranging from sports teams to local community groups not only raise money but also adopt these children to become an honorary teammate. These kids are invited to join their teams at practices, games and other team functions.
A.J. pictured with Head Coach Bryan Kelly during the pre game Pledge of Allegiance
Coach Bryan Kelly was eager to get his team involved and so what was to become a story book ending began. The experience for young A.J. was one he will never forget. He attended practices, got to hang out with the team in the locker room and was at just about every game both home and away standing on the sideline with the Cardinals as they battled their way through the 2012 season finishing with a well deserved 2012 MIAA Championship victory at Towson University.
8 year old A.J. Team Ambassador pictured in the middle with his neon yellow StrongHope Shirt
But the battle that the Cardinals fought this year was none to compare to the battle young A.J. is currently fighting. The Team Ambassador program has helped bring joy and hope to young A.J. and his family while going through a difficult time, it has also taught the young men from the Cardinal Lacrosse Team a lesson in life that you can give back by supporting those in need and at the same time make a significant difference in their lives.
The relationship A.J. formed with his new big brothers from the Calvert Hall Varsity Lacrosse Team was quite inspiring. To see A.J.’s mom with tears of joy in her eyes sitting in the stands as she watched her son on the Cardinal sideline cheering and high fiving his new teammates was nothing short of amazing and to watch as A.J. handed out home baked cookies to the team in the locker room after a game was a testament to grace.
A.J.’s mother Amanda Bobby quotes in a letter below just how much of an impact this has had on their family.
Thanks again StrongHope Foundation for this wonderful experience!
“AJ is on cloud 9 and really enjoying his new found love for lacrosse. I am really touched by the amount of support and love that these teams have given to him. It makes my heart burst with joy and just watching him walk on the field Friday night with the team brought tears to my eyes seeing how happy my little boy is. We couldn’t get thru this without people like you in our lives and we are ever so grateful!”
“AJ gave his teacher a StrongHope wrist band today and today she was allowing him to bring in his helmet, jersey, stick and gloves to show the class. That is all he has been talking about to his classmates and she thought it would be good for him to show everyone and talk about it.”
“Smile beaming from ear to ear on AJ this morning!”
“Can’t wait to hear how it went when I pick him up from school today.”
“We are passing the word to everyone about Team StrongHope!”
Letter from Amanda Bobby, mother of 8yr A.J. Bobby (Team Ambassador) who is currently battling childhood leukemia
To learn more about StrongHope Foundation, the Team Ambassador Program, and to see how you can help support their cause visit www.teamstronghope.org