LANCASTER, Pa. – Franklin & Marshall men's soccer coach Dan Wagner announced the signing of 11-year-old Jaden Walker, a Conestoga Valley Soccer Club product, on Thursday through a program called Team IMPACT. Walker signed a letter of intent to join the Diplomats in front of a 140-plus-member audience, consisting of current and future teammates, F&M student-athletes and community members.
To view a video of the press conference, click here.
Jaden, a native of Lancaster, was diagnosed with T Cell Leukemia, a cancer of the blood, in November 2014 after having headaches, pains, and swollen lymph nodes. He has endured numerous phases of treatment, which have included chemotherapy, steroids, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirations, among others. Jaden has been fighting through and is expected to continue treatment for 2-3 years depending on how his scans go along the way.
To view an album of photos from today, click here.
"It's an honor to be able to sit up here beside Jaden," said Wagner at Thursday's press conference, held in the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center. "His role on this team is to inspire us and remind us that no obstacle is too big to overcome."
When Jaden was asked by two-time All-American defender David Rosenfeld if he had any advice for others in a similar situation, the newest Diplomat responded, "I would say to them to stay positive and not give up."
Earlier in the day, Jaden received a personalized jersey and was issued a locker complete with a custom nametag and additional practice gear. Jaden will rejoin the Diplomats on the sidelines in the fall as F&M looks to make it third-consecutive NCAA appearance.
Team IMPACT is an organization that aims to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. They do this by matching courageous kids with local college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto local college athletic teams and become an official member of the team for the duration of their treatment and beyond. For more information on Team IMPACT, visit www.goteamimpact.org.