Jacob and the team were connected through Team Impact, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by establishing and expanding vibrant team-based support networks.
To get to the draft, Jacob was picked up from school in a Humvee stretch limo donated by Sunset Limo in Woburn. He was greeted in the Tisch Center reception area, where balloons and banners welcomed him to Tufts. A press conference was held in the film room at the Tisch Center, where Jumbos head coach Mike Daly announced Jacob as the first signing of the class of 2025. Jacob's mom, Joanne, also spoke.
After the press conference, the Tufts players escorted Jacob to the locker room which was set up to welcome him to the team. He was presented a team jersey with his name on it, and his official locker was adorned with a name plate. The event concluded with a pizza party for Jacob, his family, and guests in the film room.
Jacob and the team are already friends. The team took him trick or treating last week and have had him over to Tufts for homework, video games in the film room, captain's practice and to hang out with the guys. Check out some of the pictures on his Facebook page, "like" it all and send him any notes about the Tufts Lacrosse Family.
When he was three years old, Jacob was diagnosed with high risk neuroblastoma - a cancer that develops in the nerve tissue - after initial scans showed a large tumor in his abdomen and a second tumor in his chest (typically there is only one tumor). Following his diagnosis, he underwent six months of chemotherapy before receiving a bone marrow transplant, aimed at wiping out his bone marrow and replacing it with healthy, cancer-free marrow.
Following his transplant he was given an extremely high dose of chemo that was supposed to wipe out his entire immune system, and as a result, his organs began shutting down. His lungs filled up with fluid, he experienced internal bleeding, and the rest of his body began to swell. Jacob was immediately rushed to the hospital where he was put into a coma, in which he stayed for two months before his body fully healed. After he came out of his coma he had to relearn basic functions, including how to walk. Doctors sent him home with a walker, but after only one day he ditched the walker and began walking on his own.
Jacob is still in remission, but undergoes scans every three months to make sure he is maintaining his remission. As a result of treatment, he does not have an immune system, and has a transfusion every six weeks to help boost his immune system as much as possible. This year is the first year he is able to attend school and is currently in the first grade.
According to his mom, Jacob loves school and making friends. However, because he has been isolated due to treatment, he is only beginning to connect socially with kids his own age. As a part of the Tufts team, he will be given the boost he needs to get on his feet and the support he and his family need as they continue with his cancer journey.
Team IMPACT was founded and funded by a group of friends, colleagues and associates many of whom went to college together at Tufts, many of whom played sports in college, many of whom have had business dealings with each other, all of whom are big believers in giving back to the community and in the power of teamwork. See more at http://www.goteamimpact.org/.
"This is one tough kid," Tufts coach Mike Daly said. "We are so happy, humbled, and grateful to be a part of Jacob's life through Team Impact."
Cancer survivor Jacob Beranger with (l-r) Tufts graduates Robert Tishman, Jay Calnan, Mike Daly, Dan Kraft and Bryan McDavitt from Team Impact