CORTLAND MANOR, N.Y., February 24, 2013 – The United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) football team continued its support of their adopted team member, Mighty Mikey, a child battling pediatric brain tumors, at the 2013 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Snowball. Friends of Jaclyn is an organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors. The foundation arranges the Adopt-A-Child program to create a relationship of love, support, and friendship between the child, the team, and the child's family. The event drew over 275 people and USMMA Head Coach Mike Toop was one of four speakers to address those in attendance.
"It was a great day for Friends of Jaclyn," said Toop after the event. "Those in attendance were great supporters of Mikey and his family and are great representatives of the Academy." Superintendent, Admiral James A. Helis, PhD, added “We are extremely proud of the entire team and Head Football Coach Mike Toop, Class of 1977, for their commitment to Mikey, who has truly become part of our USMMA family.”
Over the last several seasons Mikey has joined the USMMA football team at practices and games, interacting with the midshipmen and staff on a personal level. In his comments, Coach Toop spoke about how lucky the Academy is to have Mikey on their team. “He sparks something special and inspiring inside his players,” Toop said. Those in attendance included seniors on the football team Mike Tobin and James Cameron as well as Mikey's mom Chrissy, dad Matt, and sister Katie.
The 2013 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Snowball recognized the 15 children in attendance who are fighting pediatric brain tumors as well as their adopted school and team representatives. The founder of “Friends of Jaclyn” is Dennis Murphy, a former football player at SUNY Albany coached by Toop 30 years ago. Murphy's daughter, Jaclyn, was the first child diagnosed with the deadly disease and "adopted" by a team.