Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Eye Black Challengers - Nicolas Trivelpiece and the Orange men

Honorary Orange man

Nicholas Trivelpiece seems to be a lucky little boy. The 5-year-old with the nickel-sized chocolate eyes, the sly smile and the tousled sandy hair spends a couple of days each week at SU’s practices and games, hanging with his friends. He has become, through his affiliation with an organization called Friends of Jaclyn, an honorary Orange man this season.

Nicholas’ connection with Friends of Jaclyn explains his presence. The organization, a nationwide movement named after Jaclyn Murphy, seeks to improve the quality of life for children with pediatric brain tumors. Friends of Jaclyn matches those children with mostly college, but some high school athletic programs. Executive Director Sarah Walsh said 165 children have Friends of Jaclyn relationships with teams.

The idea, said Walsh, is to introduce sick children to surrogate big brothers and sisters who can distract them from their illness and make them feel special. For Nicholas, those big brothers wear the Syracuse uniforms of the No.5 team in the nation.

On days when he isn’t sequestered in a small hospital room, grimacing as a nurse plunges a needle into a port surgically implanted to admit a powerful cancer-fighting drug called vinblastine, Nicholas can laugh and play with his tall buddies.

“It’s just this positive vibe. (Nicholas thinks) ‘I do have to go to the hospital. That makes me special. But this is special too. This is special time because I have this special thing,’” said Karen Trivelpiece, Nicholas’ mother. “That’s all he really understands. He doesn’t get the significance of SU basketball. He’s 5. These are just his friends. And this is very humbling to us.”

Full story here.

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