SIDNEY — Rozlyn, “Roz,” Abbott, daughter of Anne and Matthew Abbott, has been named the new mascot of the Lady Tigers basketball team at Wittenberg University.
“I found the organization, called Team Impact, through Facebook. They pair kids that have disabilities with college teams,” said Anne Abbott. “I just happened to see a post on another group page of someone who was a part of it.”
Founded in 2011 by Jay Calnan, Dan Kraft, and several of their business associates and former classmates, Team Impact strives to not only impact the children chosen but to also impact the families and the college students on the team. Team Impact believes that by focusing on the experiences of all involved they will impress upon them the need to serve others and to take part in something bigger than themselves.
Team IMPACT lists their mission as, “Improving the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team.”
Roz was battling seizures and underwent a hemispherectomy, in which the right side of her brain was disconnected, in February 2014. A week after the surgery, Roz was diagnosed with Rasmussen Encephalitis.
“She has a very rare syndrome called Rasmussen’s Encephalitis which is chronic encephalitis of one half the brain. She is one of approximately 500 cases worldwide reported,” said Abbott.
According to Johns Hopkins Hospital, “Rasmussen’s Encephalitis appears to be an autoimmune process that causes one hemisphere of the brain to become inflamed and deteriorate. Inflammation may stop without treatment, but the damage is irreversible. Rasmussen’s syndrome is associated with intractable unilateral seizures, weakness on one side and intellectual dysfunction. Seizures are often the first symptom to appear.”
Upon hearing the news that Roz was chosen to be the mascot, Abbott said, “When we told her she was going to be a teammate, she thought it was the neatest thing. She thought she was big stuff.”
During the games, Roz is permitted to go in the locker room and sit on the bench with the team. She is also included in the team introductions, the post-game huddle, and shaking hands with the opposing team after the game.
Her mother feels that the experience benefits Roz in several ways.
“She feels a part of a sports team that she may never get the chance to be a part of. She gets to have a great group of role models cheering her on every day. “said Abbott.
You can follow Roz’s adventures and progress at www.facebook.com/pg/amazingroz.
For more information on Team Impact, visit their website at www.goteamimpact.org.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News