Sixteen-year-old Ian Woodward has gone through close to 40 brain surgeries since he was a baby. He has hydrocephalus, an incurable illness caused by too much fluid pressing on the brain. Constantly being in and out of hospitals, Ian and his family struggled to keep a positive outlook. This changed when they connected with the University of Hartford’s Men’s Lacrosse team through a non-for-profit organization called Team IMPACT two years ago. The organization pairs children with life- threatening illnesses or life-altering chronic conditions with college athletic teams.
Watch how the University’s Men’s Lacrosse team changed Ian’s life:
“It has meant more than almost anything,” says Susan Woodward, Ian’s mom. “Not only have they given him a place where he belongs, but they have also organized fundraisers for hydrocephalus research.”
Every time Ian sets foot on the lacrosse field, the players instantly run over to greet him. When Ian is well enough, he attends practices and goes to the games.
Spending countless hours outside of class, teammates Alec Brown ’17 and Conor Daley ’17 helped arrange the sixth annual Connecticut Hydrocephalus Association walk in Meadowview Park in Middlebury, Conn., in September. The walk brought in a little over $15,000. In an effort to raise additional money for the Hydrocephalus Association, the team created a fundraising program on campus called “Stache for Cash.” Each member of the team, including the coaching staff, grew a moustache for the entire month of September. They also sold “Stache for Cash” t-shirts around campus.
“I am so proud of them. They really stepped up and took charge of this charity,” says Head Men’s Lacrosse Coach Ryan Martin.
It has always been a tradition for student-athletes on the Men’s Lacrosse team to become engaged in charity work. In the past, they have raised money for cancer organizations and worked with kids with disabilities.
“My husband and I are so proud to be connected to them,” says Ian’s mom.
Ian is the fifth Team IMPACT athlete to join the University of Hartford family. Read more about the other members here.