11-Year Old Danny Stephenson of Plymouth Signs with Football in Team IMPACT “Draft Day” Ceremony

Skyhawks officially welcomed Stephenson as newest teammate Friday night

Danny was an honorary captain at Saturday night's home football game against LIU Post (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

EASTON, Mass. (September 17, 2018) – The Stonehill College football program officially welcomed its newest teammate when it signed 11-year-old Daniel Stephenson, from nearby Plymouth, through Team IMPACT (Inspire, Motivate, Play Against Challenges, Together) in a ceremony inside the Sally Blair Ames Sports Complex on Friday evening, prior to the Skyhawks week three matchup with LIU Post.

Danny, the son of Lori and Scott Stephenson, joins the Stonehill football program while courageously battling leukemia, diagnosed in 2017. Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams to form life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes, matched Danny with the football team and they first met during spring practice. He served as honorary captain at Saturday night's game against LIU Post, joining in on the opening coin toss, and will continue to attend Skyhawks practices, games, team dinners, events and more during her time as a member of the team.

"We're really excited to welcome Danny to the Stonehill football family," said Stonehill football head coach Eli Gardner. "As our team got to know Danny in the spring and moving forward, it became obvious that it is just a terrific fit for both of us. We feel really blessed to have such a good person with a great family behind him, joining our program. I think it's definitely inspiring to get to know Danny and to hear his story and see how he goes about attacking life and living it to the fullest, while overcoming obstacles that are placed in front of him. I think there is lot that those of us in this room and beyond can take from Danny and learn to become better people because of knowing him."

Danny received his number 22 jersey upon signing his official Stonehill football and Team IMPACT "Letter of Intent." Helping Danny acclimate to his new team are team advocates: senior Kyle Cullen, juniors Tim O'Brien and Kyle Smith, and sophomores Casey Earle, Dohnavyn Jefferson and Ryan Weis.

Danny (center) with coach Gardner and the football team's Team IMPACT leadership team.

"I know I speak for all of my teammates when I express how happy we are to work with an organization like Team IMPACT," said O'Brien. "The connection they have given us with a new teammate and brother in Danny will be a memory forever for us, and Danny as well."

Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched nearly 1,600 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 48 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency and perspective they can't learn in a classroom.

Team IMPACT has more than 1,000 teams waiting to be matched with children, ages 5-16, who have been diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness and who could benefit from becoming a member of the team. If you know a child who may be interested, visit www.goteamimpact.org for more information.

Stonehill (1-2, 1-1 NE10) is back in action this Saturday when it visits Southern Connecticut State University for a Northeast-10 Conference matchup at 6 p.m. The Skyhawks return home on Saturday, October 13, to host Merrimack College for its Purple & White Game at W.B. Mason Stadium at 6 p.m.

For the latest on Stonehill Athletics, follow the Skyhawks via social media on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can also download the Stonehill Skyhawks "Front Row" mobile app, powered by PrestoSports, on iTunes and the Android Market.

Danny Team IMPACT Signing Day Photo Gallery

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