Nov 27, 2018
Mesa, AZ - On Monday afternoon just before practice began, MCC women’s basketball welcomed its newest member.
Three-year old Lyla Boni, who has been battling leukemia for nearly a year, ‘signed’ a letter of intent to become a part of the Thunderbird family in a special locker room ceremony attended by MCC women’s basketball players, coaches, and other campus support staff.
The team learned about Lyla through an organization called the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (http://friendsofjaclyn.org/). Their mission is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling many types of childhood cancers and to spread awareness. They match young patients with local sports teams who act as another support system as they are going through their fight.
This was the first time the team was able to meet Lyla and her family who were in town for her chemo treatment at nearby Banner Desert.
Her toughness showed as she entered the locker room just 35 minutes after chemotherapy, a bundle of energy and excitement, that quickly won over the Thunderbird team.
According to her mother Alisha Harris, Lyla was diagnosed on March 30, 2018 after complaining of tiredness and leg pains. She received her first blood transfusion the following day, April 1. She has been receiving regular weekly treatments since. The good news is this has been producing positive results and the leukemia is currently in remission, although she will still have to do two and a half years of prescribed treatment to combat the long term affects of the disease.
She will continue weekly chemo sessions until the beginning of January 2019, then will move to a monthly option to promote the maintenance phase. Her family, who currently resides in Globe, AZ, drive nearly one and a half hours one way each week to Mesa for her treatment sessions. They were very excited for Lyla to become part of the Thunderbird program and sat to share their family’s story with the MCC team, who listened attentively about their roller coaster emotional journey learning how to live with and fight against leukemia over the last seven months.
MCC women’s basketball, who was recently recognized as the first two-year community college to participate in Nike’s N7 basketball jersey initiative for their 6th Annual American Indian Recognition Day, is very excited for the opportunity to support Lyla, a member of the San Carlos Apache Nation.
Head coach Kori Stephenson said, “It is very important for our team to learn how to give back, especially as it promotes supporting future generations of kids. The opportunity to join Lyla and her family in this fight could not have come at a more perfect time as we are not only wearing a jersey emphasizing family and friendship but also we can learn that others are battling tougher opponents in their lives than we are on the basketball court.”
Lyla is also receiving additional support from MCC’s American Indian Institute, whose goal is to build bonds and relationships with local tribal communities and their members. MCC has the largest American Indian student population of all Maricopa schools and is excited to be a part of this campus collaboration to support younger generations.
Join us in welcoming Lyla to the Thunderbird family and supporting her and her family’s fight against leukemia. She will try to be at as many games as she can attend so come say hi and welcome them to the Thunderbird family, she will be the one with the boundless energy and that big, beautiful smile cheering on her Thunderbirds.
Photographs of the event can be viewed here: https://vogtjj.smugmug.
Use the following password: Mesa