HARRISON, N.Y. Head Coach of the Manhattanville Valiants men's basketball team Pat Scanlon said bringing 14-year-old AJ Buchanan on board last year has been nothing but positive for him and his team, even if he never tallied a point on the scoreboard.
"AJ has been a true blessing not only for our team, but for our college, families and friends," Scanlon said. "He has been an unbelievable inspiration to everyone. His courage and strength would be amazing for any person, but especially so for someone so young."
Over a year ago, unofficial sixth man Buchanan joined the college's men's basketball team through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which works to bring together children fighting brain tumors with college athletic teams. Since becoming a part of the team, Scanlon said Buchanan became known as his most valuable contributor.
Last August, Buchanan learned that a brain tumor had returned and he's been kept off the sidelines since. He has been receiving treatment at the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.
In his honor, Scanlon and the Valiants will be selling special T-shirts to help raise money for AJ and his family while he goes through treatment.
"Our team is so fortunate in having a teammate to teach us so much about how to live," Scanlon said. "We are grateful for the chance to spend time with him at Westchester Medical Center, but we need AJ to rejoin us on the bench where he excels at encouraging our players and getting on the refs."
Since joining the team, Valiants players have sent packages to Buchanan and also spent nights in the hospital with him. On occasion, he will join the team for practices and sit on the bench next to players and coaches during games.
"The love, support and friendship that the Manhattanville basketball team has given to AJ have truly made a difference," said Suzanne Jacobs, adoption coordinator at Friends of Jaclyn Foundation.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation currently has over 300 children placed with athletic teams.
Those interested in ordering a shirt can email Pat Scanlon at Pat.Scanlon@mville.edu or call (914) 323-7271.
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