Softball Team “Adopts” Teen with Illness, Donates to Red Cross

The Wesleyan softball team and Stephanie Lubogo.

The Wesleyan softball team and Stephanie Lubogo.

This fall, the Wesleyan softball team has expanded its efforts beyond the sports field in order to help others. In November, the team “adopted” a 13-year-old Cromwell, Conn. girl who struggles with multiple health problems, and donated to the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Joining the Wesleyan softball team through the Team IMPACT program is 13-year-old Stephanie Lubogo (shown seated in middle of photo with younger sister Emily on the right).

Team IMPACT matches local youngsters suffering from a variety of maladies with college athletic teams to boost their confidence and sense of belonging. Stephanie was born with an illness called Prader Willi syndrome, a complex chromosomal disorder that affects the hypothalamus in a person’s brain leading to insatiable hunger. In addition to her Prader Willi, Stephanie also was diagnosed with juvenile scoliosis at the age of two, and by age three had almost a 90 degree curve in her spine. In order to combat the effects of her scoliosis, at age 10 Stephanie had to have a spinal fusion, in which doctors fused the bones in her spine from her neck down to her tailbone. As a result of that surgery, Stephanie missed close to two months of school. She still must have one or two surgeries each year.

Stephanie understands what it means to persevere and will use the support of her softball teammates to continue overcoming challenges in her life. She participates in Girl Scouts and also likes to read, sing, and collect books, stickers and movies. She loves the TV shows Full House, Everybody Loves Raymond and Extreme Makeover – Home Edition, and she is a fan of singers Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

“We are excited to have Stephanie be a part of our team,” said Wesleyan Softball Head Coach Jen Lane. “She is a sweet and caring girl with whom our players felt an instant connection. I think both the team and Stephanie will benefit from being in each other’s lives.”

The softball team also helped the Red Cross’ Hurricane Sandy relief effort by donating the entire proceeds of its 50/50 raffle during the Wesleyan vs. Trinity football game on Nov. 10. The Cardinals sold $320 worth of tickets, so their $160 was earmarked for the Red Cross. The winner of the raffle also donated funds to the Red Cross, upping to level of the support to $320.

“After Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, we decided to donate the proceeds of the 50/50 raffle from the Wesleyan/Trinity football game to the Red Cross for the hurricane relief efforts,” Coach Lane explained. “Seeing how much devastation there was from the storm, we wanted to do something to help. We actually did the same thing during the fall of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. I think everyone on the team knows someone affected by the storm, and while the $320 we donated is not that much, we hope it can offer some help to those in need.”