April 25, 2011
BERKELEY - A year had transpired since the California softball team's adoptee Bebe had been out to Levine-Fricke Field. But the changes that went on during that year were monumental for the little four-year-old girl with cancer.
"Last time we saw her, her face was buried in her dad's arms the whole time since she was exhausted from her radiation," junior Amy Bishop said. "It made us all so happy to see her so happy and talkative this time. She's adorable! Over the last two years, she's become a symbol of our team's strength and fight."
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.
Last year, Bebe's father, Geoff, threw out the first pitch, but Bebe was more than up to the task this year. Bebe and her family - both her parents are Cal alums - attended the game against Stanford on April 23, which was good luck for the Bears upset Stanford, 4-1.
"It was an honor to catch her first pitch," sophomore catcher Lindsey Ziegenhirt said. "She is such an inspirational little girl. Her enthusiasm and happiness through all of her adversity is truly amazing."
Following the Cal win, the family met with the players on the field. The Bears signed their autographs, posed for a photo and gave their encouragement to Bebe and her family. In the future, the Cal softball team hopes to further their involvement with Bebe.
"Seeing her in the dugout before the game happy and content made me put a lot of things into perspective!" Junior third baseman Jace Williams said. "Bebe and her family feel blessed every day and that is how we all should appreciate this gift called life! Life is a blessing ,and Bebe has changed the way I view the little things in life and is a tremendous fighte,r which has inspired me every day that I step on the field."
In two years, Bebe has had treatment at three different hospitals - Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, UCSF and MD Anderson in Houston, Texas. Some of her treatments included proton radition as well as chemotherapy.
"She has been an inspiration for me from the day I read about her on her website," Williams said. "Her situation and struggle hit home with me and my family on a very personal level. My uncle, who I'm never got to meet, passed away at 13 from a brain tumor, so this little girl means a lot to me!"
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 wherby 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 member, 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.