"Friends of Jaclyn" Angel Walk Set for Sunday, Sept. 29

Jaclyn Murphy '16 works to provide others with the kind of support that helped her battle a malignant brain tumor


By Deana Hasandjekaj '15, Office of Media Relations

POUGHKEEPSIE (Sept. 25, 2013) – Marist sophomore Jaclyn Murphy survived a malignant brain tumor with the motivational support of a women’s college lacrosse team. Wanting others to benefit the way she did from that support, Jaclyn and her family founded the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.

Murphy’s story picked up national attention after she was featured on HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" (see video below). She was recognized during Gumbel's appearance on campus last year.

Now, Jaclyn will host the Second Annual Angel Walk on the Walkway over the Hudson on Sunday, Sept. 29. Sponsored by her foundation, registration for the event will take place from 9-11 a.m. Within the registration period there will be games and activities such as face painting. FOJ banner

The walk begins at 11:15 a.m. and continues until the participants reach the halfway point of the pedestrian bridge, at which point walkers will honor 84 children who have passed been lost to the condition since 2007; all members of Adopt-a-Child, a Friends of Jaclyn program. "It’s touching and it’s an emotional process," Murphy says. "To start something like this is just amazing."

Jaclyn’s Story 

At the age of nine, Murphy was constantly in and out of the hospital. As emphasized in the HBO Real Sports special, Murphy was inspired by a photo on the hospital wall of a young college woman playing lacrosse, a game Murphy loved to play at a local gym. Her goal was to one day play again. 

In 2005, friends of the Murphy family with ties to Northwestern University’s women’s lacrosse program told the coach about Jaclyn’s story and her love of lacrosse and asked if the team could help. The team "adopted" Jaclyn as an honorary member; she attended their games and became close with the players. "Ever since then, they've been like my sisters," Jaclyn says.

With Jaclyn providing added motivation, the team went on to win the NCAA championship. Murphy’s experience with the Northwestern team inspired her to start Friends of Jaclyn, a non-profit organization that pairs children with pediatric brain tumors with high school and college sports teams. She wanted other children to get the same opportunity and support that she had.
In expanding the foundation’s mission, Murphy’s mother and sister started the Safe on the Sidelines program, through which teams adopt siblings of the child with brain cancer.

"When I was diagnosed at age nine and a half, my sister was seven and a half," Jaclyn says. "My parents were always with me when I was going through all of that, so my sister spent lots of time at friend’s houses and with families." The sibling or the afflicted child is invited to spend time with the team and watch games through Friends of Jaclyn.

At Marist, Jaclyn is a sports communications major and is heavily involved in Marist athletics. She was a student manager for the women’s lacrosse team last year and hopes to continue that this semester. She is also an active Marist sports fan and is a regular at Marist games and matches.

Friends of Jaclyn at Marist

Families who have been "adopted" through Marist, Vassar, and other schools will be recognized at the Sept. 29 walk. Five Marist sports teams have “adopted” children through Friends of Jaclyn: women’s basketball, football, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s lacrosse.

Joanne Gavin, associate professor of management, is a member of the foundation’s board of directors and is working to help grow the foundation. "Because Jaclyn is here, because several of our sports teams are involved, and because the organization has a need, we've worked very hard to identify students in the school of management who would be interested in doing internships for them," Gavin says.

Students can receive credit for internships working on the business operations side of Friends of Jaclyn. According to Gavin, accounting students help with the finances and the spreadsheets and marketing students help contact the coaches and set up fundraisers. "They often are the legs of the organization," Gavin says.

Getting Involved

In addition to participating in the walk, people can get involved with Friends of Jaclyn by signing up to become an angel. Kids that are in hospice and are not physically able to be “adopted” by a team are able to still get love, support and friendship from volunteers.

For more information, visit www.friendsofjaclyn.org.