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Men’s soccer signs 8-year-old cancer patient

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Men’s soccer signs 8-year-old cancer patient

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By Mike Puzzanghera, news correspondent

As 8-year-old Simon Pelletier lifted his pen from paper on Wednesday afternoon, an uproarious round of applause erupted from the rest of Simon’s new team, the Northeastern men’s soccer squad.

Pelletier, who is courageously battling lymphoma, became an official member of the Huskies this past week through a partnership with Team IMPACT, signing a national letter of intent to join the team.

Team IMPACT is a program centered in Boston that works to connect children fighting illnesses with college athletic teams. They have worked with almost 1,600 children in the U.S. through their 500 collegiate partners

During the ceremony, Pelletier signed his letter after short speeches by head coach Chris Gbandi and his mother, Lisa. Afterwards, Simon enjoyed a dinner with his new team.

“Simon, your mom Lisa, your sister Stella, we want to say welcome to our family. This is a big group, but a welcoming group and we think you can really help us,” Gbandi said during the presentation.

Lisa was thankful to both the Huskies and Team IMPACT for helping Simon.

“First of all I just wanted to say thank you to Team IMPACT and to Northeastern,” Lisa said. “Simon is really, really excited to be a part of the team, and it just means a lot to us that the organization exists and that as a team you guys are willing to support them and have Simon be a part of your practices and games and things like that. It really means a lot to us.”

Simon will receive a team locker as well as a uniform and other team gear. After signing his letter of intent, he received his first piece of gear, a Northeastern hat given to him by Gbandi himself. Simon will be joining the team for all of their games, practices and team events.

Gbandi said that he knew immediately bringing Simon into the team was going to be great for all parties involved.

“From the get-go we knew it was going to be a home run because he likes soccer and he likes hanging around the guys, and he visited our guys and he was super excited,” Gbandi said. “The guys obviously love Simon, they’ve been around him, and it’ll be big for us. We’re super excited to just welcome him to the family.”

Gbandi added that having Simon on the team is going to be a boost for the team.

“It’s something that is going to be so beneficial, not only for Simon, but beneficial for our guys as well. They get to work with a kid like [Simon] who has been through a lot and is such a tough kid, so I think it’s a home run for us,” Gbandi said.

Northeastern captain fourth-year midfielder Gerardo Milano said that having Simon around will be very beneficial for the team.

“It’s a great opportunity to have someone who can give us a lot of perspective about what life is. Sometimes we take a lot of things for granted and this is a great chance for him to help us have that perspective,” Milano said. “Having a young guy like him is going to bring a lot of energy to the team as well during practice and games. It’s great to have someone in there that we can share these experiences with on and off the field.”

Milano also hopes that the Huskies will be able to teach Simon some important lessons.

“One of the things that we show in training and off camera and off the field as well is professionalism. We have to be role models to the young kids,” Milano said. “It’s a great chance for us to show him what he will be facing when he goes to school, and if he wants to play sports as well, we can give him that perspective.”

For young Simon, the experience was exciting, yet somewhat frightening.

“I felt happy, but kind of scared that everyone was looking at me,” Simon said.

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Men’s soccer signs 8-year-old cancer patient