UCF Softball to Honor Friends of Jaclyn Teammate



April 15, 2014

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By Nate Blythe

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+ Friends of Jaclyn Foundation

ORLANDO, FLA. - Friday is a special doubleheader for the UCF softball tean because the program will celebrate and honor Kay Clark, its Friends of Jaclyn (FOJ) honorary teammate. The Knights adopted Kay through the FOJ Foundation in 2009.

Before the 3 p.m. first pitch against Louisville, UCF will hold a balloon release in support of Kay and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Throughout the doubleheader, FOJ T-shirts will be thrown out into the stands.

"We have been with Kay and her family over the last five years," UCF head coach Renee Luers-Gillispie said. "Watching Kay grow up, seeing her healthy and praying for her when she goes in for doctor's appointments gives our student-athletes a sense of what is really important in life. We are honored to be a part of an organization has done so much for these families."

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is a 501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families by matching each child with a collegiate or high school athletic team. FOJ was formed in 2004 and has grown tremendously over the past 10 years.

The FOJ motto is "Live in the moment...Play in the moment."

At the age of 3, Kay was diagnosed with a brain tumor in her right cerebellum and had her first surgery in May 2004. She has had a total of three surgeries to date, but continues to be an everyday kid.

"At first, Kay was a little timid in getting to know me," junior Maddy Schroeder said. "Once our relationship grew stronger, she comes over to play games, asks how we are doing and shares what she has done in school."

One highlight for Schroeder was when Kay came in a few weeks back to play her violin to the team. Schroeder said, "It was beautiful and the team loved it."

Junior Kahley Novak remembers UCF hosting a spring carnival where a number of participants with the FOJ Foundation came out to the Knights' doubleheader against UTEP last year.

"Kay means a lot to us," Novak said. "She is awesome and every time that we have an opportunity to be involved with Friends of Jaclyn it is super cool to see all the kids out there that just love being outside and playing."

The Knights have provided Kay with her own locker. She has been to a number of games to help cheer on UCF from the dugout.

"We love the support that she gives us on the bench," Schroeder said. "She makes us smile and wants us to do well. We love having her out there."

Novak added, "She is like our good-luck charm because every time she is here, it seems like we win. We like having her around."



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