Supporting the Tewksbury Redmen in any sporting event is a communal event, steeped in history and tradition. Relationships formed between players and their families throughout youth and high school sports can last a lifetime.
Beyond the world of game scores, stats, and trophies, the Redmen family is always there to lend a hand to a fellow athlete in need.
Jocelyn Coppola Illness
Acute lymphocytic leukaemia was recently diagnosed in 12-year-old Tewksbury softball player Jocelyn Coppola just days into her season. With a GoFundMe campaign that has raised almost $7,000 and an event hosted by the Tewksbury High School softball team, the Redmen are making sure Coppola isn’t facing the long road ahead alone after the devastating news.
Micayla Hanson and Jacqui Johnson are close friends of the family, and when they heard the shocking news, they felt compelled to help in any way they could. The group of lifelong friends have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the expenses associated with cancer treatment, and they have also designed and are selling bracelets under the name “Jocey’s Posse” to raise money for the cause.
“She told us the diagnosis and we were like okay, we need to do something, so we started with bracelets,” said Hanson. “A lot of people don’t use Venmo so the older people requested GoFundMe. It’s been going really well.”
Coppola is participating in her sixth season of softball in Tewksbury and, in her spare time, she enjoys doing crafts and playing video games. She’s the eldest of her two younger siblings, Julia (in fifth grade) and Jack (in first grade). The town’s quick response has been greatly appreciated by her parents, Jill Canty and Joe Cappola.
“I’ve honestly been speechless. She can’t even believe it when she looks at the GoFundMe,” Hanson said of Coppola’s family. “It’s amazing to see that everybody in town is just so (supportive). Some people don’t even know her, some people have never met Jocelyn and they’ve been so supportive. It’s been really great.”
Coppola has begun chemotherapy and is bracing herself for the treatment’s unpleasant side effects.
“She’s a force,” said Hanson of Coppola’s fight thus far. “We’re very hopeful that she’s going to continue to be a force.”
Johnson, like Hanson, thinks the community’s backing will encourage Coppola to keep fighting.
“We’re just hoping to Jocelyn that she’s got people behind her, because as a twelve-year-old girl trying to find themselves and where they belong and fit in in middle school (is hard), and she’s got a long road ahead of her,” said Johnson. “That’s how quick her life was flipped from a regular pre-teen girl to a pre-teen battling cancer for the next three years.”
Coppola has been admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital for what is hoped to be a 30-day stay before she is released for weekly therapy. When she is released, she will be there for her team.
“She’s hoping that when she gets home she can at least come and sit on a bench and watch and still be a part of the team and be a part of the community and the culture of it and cheer her friends on,” said Hanson.
Tewksbury’s softball fans will continue to defend their hero on the field until that day comes. Over $650 was raised at last weekend’s home run derby for Coppola, which was hosted by the Tewksbury High School softball team.
The following links will take you to further material that may be of interest to you:
- Erin Napier Illness Update In 2023, What Disease Does Erin Napier Have?
- Vince Gill Illness: Is He Suffering From Any Medical Condition?
Alyssa Adams, a junior, quickly began thinking of ways in which her team could assist when she heard about Coppola’s illness.
“My mom sent me the link of her story and she was like maybe you guys could do something and I was like yeah of course,” recalled Adams. “She’s in our youth program and we’re trying to do more for our youth as well. (I said) it would be really good if we donated as a program and to find something to do as a team and connect us more.”
Adams had long known that Alumni Field at the Livingston Street Softball Complex was the ideal spot for a home run derby because it was shallower than the rest of the fields. Coppola’s team rallied around her with support after seeing posters advertising their efforts to do so across town.
“We were talking about how all the fields are big except that one, so we’re like everyone’s going to be hitting dingers over there,” Adams said with a laugh. “Let’s do a home run derby. And I (got the idea) let’s do it for Jocelyn. It’s a really good cause and it’s very heartwarming for everyone to feel like they did something good and to help her out.”
Brittney Kannan, head coach of the high school varsity team, was leading a practice before their “play day” when she was approached with the proposal by Adams.
“At practice, she comes over to me in the middle of practice and she’s like coach, what about a home run derby tomorrow, so we ran with that,” she said. “All the kids got super excited. They were texting other teams that were coming here trying to make sure everyone knew the word and what was going on.”
Kannan understands the hardships that cancer may cause a family and the ways in which others can lend support.
She remembered, “When my brother was fifteen, he was diagnosed with cancer, and I was thirteen.” He was in the hospital for a month while I was at home, so it meant a lot to both of us. We witnessed a community-wide effort to help out, complete with donations and volunteer efforts.
“It really means something to you when you’re going through such a hard time as a family,” said Kannan. “To see these kids really come together and do something for maybe a girl that they didn’t know, but she’s one of ours, it was really nice to see that.”
Abby Tower led the softball team in home runs and the team raised $662. Hanson and Johnson had no idea their idea for a GoFundMe page and bracelets would take off the way it has. In a place like Tewksbury, though, this is hardly shocking.
“All the support has definitely made them feel like they belong and a real sense of community, which Tewksbury has been known for,” said Johnson. “They really step up to the plate when somebody in town needs help. Tewksbury does a really good job at rallying together.”