A new addition to the lacrosse family

PV lacrosse team ‘adopts’ local child with brain cancer


Victoria Donofrio

The Mattessich family all together at the adoption ceremony on Wednesday.

For as long as she could remember, Delia would pick up her hairbrush in the morning and brush her brown hair as her mother smiled down at her. She’d look in the mirror, admiring her hair, fixing stray and flyaway strands.  But now that she is without hair, the brush sits untouched.

On Wednesday, the PV girls and boys lacrosse teams adopted Delia Mattessich, an 8-year-old girl from River Vale who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. The girls’ team adopted Delia as well as her older sister Sienna, 9. The boys’ lacrosse team adopted her brother, Blake, 11.

Patricia Kimball, a PV parent who also has had a child with brain cancer, introduced the idea to the lacrosse coaches.

“When I was first introduced to Delia, she was like ‘what is lacrosse?,’” Melissa Velez, varsity girls’ lacrosse coach, said. “But then she remembered that her cousin in Long Island plays. If she is willing to play lacrosse, we will happily teach her.”

Adopting a child and their siblings means giving them love, support, and friendship. The children get to feel normal and a part of a team by going to games and hanging out with the players.”

— Denis Murphy

The adoptions have occurred through Friends of Jaclyn, a nonprofit organization that allows patients of pediatric cancer to be placed with a team.

“Adopting a child and their siblings means giving them love, support, and friendship,” Denis Murphy, the founder of Friends of Jaclyn, said. “The children get to feel normal and a part of a team by going to games and hanging out with the players.”

The lacrosse teams have already thought of ways to make Delia and her siblings feel welcome and a part of the team.

“We plan to have Delia and her sister at every practice and game,” PV varsity lacrosse player Emily Sinisi said. “We are also hoping she will be able to come to pasta parties and hang out with us off the field. We can’t wait to start spending time with her.”

Friends of Jaclyn has three programs to help raise awareness for childhood cancer: Adopt-a-Child, Safe on the Sidelines, and Guardian Angel.

The Adopt-a-Child program pairs a child battling cancer with a team. Similarly, Safe on the Sidelines deals with the adoption of the siblings of the child that has cancer. Guardian Angel provides an opportunity for people to send messages of endearment to families with a child diagnosed with cancer.

“I am beyond excited we are adopting Delia,” said Sinisi, a junior. “She is going through a tough time and the fact that we have the honor of putting a smile on her face and distracting her [from treatments] is truly amazing. It’s such a great feeling to make her happy.”

PV is participating in Adopt-a-Child by adopting Delia and Safe on the Sidelines by adopting Blake and Sienna. The team’s duty is to help make the child’s life brighter during their dark times. This will be Friends of Jaclyn’s 736th adoption as an organization.

Delia will be having an MRI on Friday to make sure surgery has completely removed the tumor. She will begin chemotherapy on Monday, which will be a 13 month process.