BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – On Thursday, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy women's lacrosse team added its newest member, Team IMPACT's Arianna Gilmore. The Draft Day was sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Arianna signed an official Letter of Intent before her family and friends, cheered on by more than one hundred Buccaneer athletes.
Arianna is one of 30,000 patients in the United States living courageously with cystic fibrosis (CF), a disease predominantly diagnosed in children by the age of 2. Arianna is already a fixture with the Bucs and has attended games, practices, and other team events during the record-setting 2018 season. She is the fourth Team IMPACT member to sign with an Academy team.
Team IMPACT is a national non-profit based in Quincy, Mass., that connects children facing serious and chronic illnesses with local college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Through the Team IMPACT CF Project sponsored by Vertex Pharmaceuticals, children who have CF, like Arianna, are drafted onto local college athletic teams and become an official member of the team to support the child's physical, social and emotional needs.
The celebration included an arrival in a police cruiser and entrance to the building with her parents, sisters, and relatives following her through a tunnel of clapping Buccaneers. Proceeding into Harrington Hall and up the stairs, Arianna, preceded by an official videographer, made a grand entrance down the stairs into Admiral's Hall as the soundtrack to Moana played and the women's lacrosse team cheered, dancing to the songs.
Arianna was all smiles as she was introduced, showing no signs of shyness as she waved to the crowd. She sat at the draft table with her parents, Head Coach Marc Palombo, and Acting Athletic Director Mike Kelley. As Assistant Athletic Trainer Colleen Nolan told the crowd about Arianna and Team IMPACT, the star of the show continued to grin and was joined by the end by her two sisters, who watched in admiration as she autographed her Letter.
The evening concluded with Arianna donning No. 2, to a standing ovation from a full Admiral's Hall. Afterward, there were pictures of Arianna with her new team, a team dinner of pizza and chicken parmesan, plus cupcakes and gifts for the youngest Buc.
Co-captain Mikayla Correia smiled as she observed, "She was so sweet and did not mind being in front of everyone! I would have been so nervous at that age if I was her."
Assistant Coach Olivia Coakley agreed. "Arianna looked so happy. She is just the cutest!"
Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,400 children with more than 500 colleges and universities in 47 states, reaching over 50,000 participating student-athletes. The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child's support team – from Draft Day to Graduation. During 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. Arianna's determination to persevere through adversity has already made her an inspiration to the rest of her future Buccaneers teammates.