Jan. 16, 2012
BERKELEY - Before departing Berkeley to spend the winter break with their families, the California softball team spent time with an important members of its Golden Bear family - Bebe Wiggs and her family.
In 2010, the Golden Bears adopted Bebe, a local child with pediatric cancer, through the Friends of Jacyln Foundation. The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (FOJ) is a non-profit, charitable organization that improves the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors and their families.
This past December, the Cal softball team joined the Wiggs family for a holiday celebration. Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner at the newly opened Simpson Center for Student-Athlete High Performance. Following the meal, the group headed to the softball squad's brand-new locker room for presents and a big surprise for Bebe.
Prior to the dinner, the Bears and staff selected a locker that will be Bebe's for the duration. They filled it with presents for her and then gift wrapped the locker for Bebe.
"It was one of our holiday highlights, to bring a little joy to Bebe and her family," head coach Diane Ninemire said. "They have gone through so much with all of her diagnoses and her treatments. I think it made everybody on the team feel that good that we can give back. At that time of the year, too, it really helps you to be appreciative of all the things that you do have."
Each of the coaches and student-athletes donated gifts to Bebe, ranging from princess-themed items to a softball bat and glove to stuffed animals.
"The party with Bebe showed the true Christmas spirit with every present she unwrapped," sophomore catcher Taylor Vincent said. "She was so excited for each and every gift and had a smile plastered on her face the whole time. The whole party felt really great. Her parents sent a heart-warming thank you note that pretty much made my Christmas."
Assistant coach John Reeves gave Bebe her own recliner for her to sit in when she visits the locker room. Bebe even received her very own Cal softball jersey with "Bebe" on the back.
"It was really cute to watch her open each present and how much she loved everything," LaRisa Jones said.
Bebe and her family have been out to several Cal softball games to throw out the first pitch and interact with the Bears. The Cal helmets sported a BW sticker in Bebe's honor for the playoffs in 2010. During the historic 2011 postseason run, the Bears and each of the coaches had a picture of Bebe in their batting helmets or short pockets, respectively.
"I think it's good for the girls to understand that there are a lot of things they can do to make a difference in other people's lives," Ninemire said. "It's a joy for us to be able to do that. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to spend time with Bebe and her family."
About Friends of Jaclyn
FOJ matches a child in need of love, support and friendship with a college or high school sports team. After the adoption is completed, the child becomes an extension of the team whereby a unique bond is formed between the team members, the child and the family.
The benefit to all is a personal loving support network that creates a great connection. The result of the FOJ adoption is the child feels involved and each individual team member gains insight into the value of helping others. Additionally, FOJ has seen this relationship forge a closer bond among team members, magnifying the importance of a team operating as a single unit.
Through the adoption relationship, the child is involved in the team through text messaging, emails, phone calls and other forms of communication. Through the wide reaching press coverage, FOJ has helped improve the awareness of pediatric brain tumors.
FOJ has completed over 230 adoptions in over 20 different sports. They currently have over 1,000 schools on a waiting list as FOJ grows from a small organization into a larger one.
Friends of Jaclyn was inspired by Jaclyn Murphy, who was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, in March 2004, when she was nine-years-old. Jacyln's wish was "for all the children in the hospitals to be healed."
For more information, please consult the Friends of Jaclyn homepage at http://www.friendsofjaclyn.org. You can also learn more about Bebe and her fight at Caringbridge.com/visit/BebeWiggs and BebeWiggs.com.
CalBears.com will be posting a release or feature every day until the 2012 season begins on Feb. 10. Check back Tuesday to read about how the Bears spent their winter break. To see all 30-for-30 releases and features in one place, please click here.