AMHERST, NY (WKBW) — The Daemen women's volleyball team has a new member of their team... 11-year-old Ava Hackett. In a ceremony Thursday evening, Ava signed her "national letter of intent" to become a Wildcat and met her new teammates and coach for the first time.
"She's impacted us I think way more than we've impacted her," teammate Georgia Wicker said. "We wanted to make this day special for her because she deserves that and we wanted to make her feel a true part of our team."
Ava was born premature and weighed just over one pound. She was put on a ventilator and spent the first 455 days of her life in the hospital. Doctors didn't think she would be able to walk, let alone live to be 11-years-old, but Ava proved them wrong.
Oishei Children's Hospital put Ava and her family in touch with Team IMPACT, an organization that pairs children with some serious and/or chronic illness with a college athletic team. It was then that Ava was paired with Daemen College and the women's volleyball team.
"She'll probably never be signed to a college team," Ava's mom Ann Marie Hackett said. "So this is really awesome and it will be something really memorable, forever."
Ava plans on attending as many games as she can, and when benches "return to normal", a spot will be waiting for her.
"I'm gonna support them, give them motivational speeches, and come as often as I can!"