Valdosta, Ga. – The Valdosta State University Football team will adopt four-year-old, Levi Dykes, as an honorary member of the football family this Saturday. Levi is the older brother to his two-year-old sister, Annabelle Dykes, who recently has been diagnosed with Leukemia and has Down Syndrome.
While his parents tend to the constant medical needs of Annabelle, they believed Levi deserved his own support system he could lean on. With the help of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, the VSU football team graciously agreed to adopt Levi.
Friends of Jaclyn is an organization created to help improve the quality of life for children battling pediatric brain tumors and other childhood cancers by pairing them and their siblings with local teams, clubs, and community groups.
Jaclyn Murphy and her father created the foundation while Jaclyn was in the hospital battling brain cancer. As a huge fan of lacrosse, a collegiate team adopted her as an honorary member. The support she was given was overwhelming and she felt that every child deserved the same, because it made a huge difference in her experience.
At the end of July, Levi had the opportunity to visit the VSU Fieldhouse and meet the Valdosta State coaching staff and football players, Jeremy "BK" King, Stewart Spence, Brian "Buzz" Saunds, and Joe Mozone. He was able to play a few exciting games of football with them and even score a few touchdowns. He left with his very own Blazer goody bag and a memory that would change his life forever.
After his visit, Sophie Dykes, Levi's mom stated, "I have a four year old running around my house in a VSU Football shirt, carrying his new autographed football under his arm, watching VSU football on YouTube, making touchdowns on my dining room rug, yelling 'Catch the ball, Buzz'."
The overall experience has made a huge impact not only on Levi, but also the players involved. "This is something that is bigger than your self and it is truly indescribable. It is not about football or the game, this is real life and being able to affect someone else's life," stated King.
Levi was officially adopted into the Blazer family on Saturday afternoon and he will take part in a multitude of events on Saturday, September 1st when VSU hosts Albany State to open the 2018 season.