HBO "Real Sports" Feature on FOJ.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FoJ) story is a magical one about a 9-year-old girl, a start-up Division I woman’s lacrosse team, and a big dream.
In 2004, 9-year-old Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor. While undergoing treatment, she was inspired by a large framed photo on the hospital wall of a joyful, young woman lacrosse player celebrating her team’s NCAA championship. Jaclyn would see it and say, “I am going to play lacrosse again when I get well.”
In 2005, two unrelated friends of the Murphy family told Northwestern University’s Lacrosse coach about Jaclyn’s story and asked them if they could help. The team promptly adopted Jaclyn as an honorary member. Jaclyn’s strength, courage, relentless spirit, and joy for life inspired everyone. The team began to play for Jaclyn and achieved a magical “perfect season”, winning Northwestern’s first NCAA championship in 64 years. Just three years after the program started, Jaclyn even predicted the final score, 13-10, in the championship final.
When Jaclyn was in the middle of the team’s celebration, her parents realized that Jaclyn’s relationship with the players – her adopted sisters – had a positive effect on her happiness and health. The Northwestern players knew that their relationship with Jaclyn had opened their eyes and hearts to a deeper appreciation for life.
Soon afterward, Jaclyn shared a big dream with her father. She wanted other children with pediatric brain tumors to have similar experiences of being honorary team members. The Murphys understood that it is ultimately the love and support of others that gives people the inspiration and courage to get through this challenging journey.
In 2005, Denis and Lynda Murphy started The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FoJ) to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families by pairing them with college and high school athletic teams. The FoJ program has grown incredibly to over 300 children who have been adopted by high school and college teams across the country. The magical FoJ is only just beginning!