The Golden Tornadoes softball team with 16-year-old Meranda Carsey (front).
That rare girl finds a rare team
Last spring, Meranda Carsey wouldn't have described herself as rare. She was a vibrant teenager enjoying her sophomore year and playing softball at East Palestine High School. Then, on the morning of her 16th birthday, she woke up in a Cleveland area hospital.
Meranda had been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer called Fibrosarcoma. So rare, in fact, that she is the only youth in the United States ever to receive the diagnosis. Her mother transported her home for just enough time to enjoy one piece of birthday cake before shuffling her to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh where she was to undergo brain surgery. Weeks of radiation followed, and now Meranda and her family are waiting to find out how the cancer responded to the treatments.
This fall, that rare girl found a rare support group. A friend of the Carsey family and a relative of Geneva College head softball coach Van Zanic contacted the Golden Tornadoes and described Meranda’s condition. He told them about “Friends of Jaclyn,” an organization that matches young brain cancer patients with college athletic teams who can support them through their journey.
Before telling his team about the program, Zanic got them together to watch a video sharing Jaclyn’s story. An avid lacrosse player, Jaclyn had been diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of nine. That's when the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team adopted her as one of their own and helped her get through the difficult days of recovery.
When the video ended, the team’s immediate response was “We need to get a kid.”
“We got one,” Zanic told them, “and her name is Meranda Carsey.”
From that day, Meranda had 21 new sisters and, hopefully, unlimited texting on her cell phone. Relationships have been building since late September, and on November 5, the team visited Meranda and her family at their home in East Palestine, Ohio. They brought hugs, softball t-shirts with “Carsey” on the back, and a giant handmade card they had all signed.
“It was one of the most powerful nights as a coach that I have ever experienced,” said Zanic. “I guess we are that rare team that got connected with that rare girl.”
The Geneva softball team will be running the concession stand at the Shane & Shane concert on December 2 in Metheny Fieldhouse. All proceeds will be given to the Carsey family. There will be an official adoption of Meranda onto the softball team later this winter through the Friends of Jaclyn program.
For more information on Friends of Jaclyn and to view that powerful video, visit their website at http://www.friendsofjaclyn.org/. To follow Meranda’s progress and her continuing relationship with the Geneva softball team, you can visit her website at http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/merandacarsey.
“With civil engineering, we're building bridges and roads, bettering God’s creation, and making things better for society… I never made that connection until I got to Geneva.” Justin Bryan ’06
Justin, his father, Tom, and his uncle, Dave, all graduated from the Geneva College engineering department and now run the family concrete business in Pittsburgh. Read their story, and those of other Geneva alumni, in the next issue of Geneva Magazine.
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