The Redlands men's and women's swimming & diving teams welcomed a new member to the 2018-19 squad earlier this month with the "adoption" of Mason, a six-year-old swimmer from Yucaipa, Calif. who was diagnosed with Very High-Risk Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in April 2017.
The Bulldogs became connected with him through Friends of Jaclyn, which is a foundation that "aims to improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric cancers by pairing them with local teams, clubs, and community groups."
On October 15, the Bulldogs hosted Mason, his 10-year-old brother Hunter, his mom Kirsten, and his dad Geoff at the Thompson Aquatic Center for a special presentation, which included the sharing of Mason's story, the signing of a NCAA Division III celebratory form, hearing the Och Tamale, and running through a team tunnel.
"Mason has had a very difficult last year and he continues to be a fighter. He is a warrior!" Kirsten commented. "This opportunity is so amazing, as it gives Mason and our family extra support and friendship, as he continues to fight on. One of Mason's favorite things to do is swimming and meeting this team made him feel so special."
Redlands hopes to provide love, support, and friendship by including Mason in team activities and meets throughout the 2018-19 season.
"Being a Bulldog collegiate athlete is a privilege. There are times when our student-athletes take this opportunity for granted. By showing them the pure joy and elation Mason has for being a new member of our team, it gives them an appreciation for their Bulldog experience," stated Head Coach Leslie Whittemore. "Hearing how strong Mason has been in his battle so far, and how much support he continues to need, provides perspective for our daily struggles with a bad practice or a not-so-perfect performance. We are honored to have the Tamura family become a part of our Bulldog family."
Like many six-year-olds, Mason enjoys swimming, Superheroes, and video games.
Mason is currently in long-term maintenance treatment, which includes daily chemotherapy medication as well as monthly infusions of chemotherapy. He will be receiving this course treatment until at least July 2020.
Friends of Jaclyn was established in 2005 to help sick children to "live in the moment… play in the moment." Learn more by visiting the organization's website at http://friendsofjaclyn.org.
Redlands looks forward to seeing Mason and his family on the pool deck at the Thompson Aquatic Center again soon.
-- Courtesy of Redlands Sports Information --