LAFAYETTE OUEST, Ind. – Purdue baseball partnered with Team IMPACT to bring 12-year-old Graham Teyema into the program, a process that was formalized with Graham visiting campus for a signing of the national letter of intent and a visit by Alexander Field.
Graham is the son of alumni Purdue Scott and Brandi Teyema of Frankfort, Indiana. Graham was born with Singleton-Merten syndrome, a rare genetic mutation.
Team IMPACT provides a safe, supportive and supportive environment for a child and their family to connect with a varsity sports team with the goal of filling the void left when traditional support systems are lacking for children living with chronic illness or disease. potentially fatal. Greg goff first partnered with the IMPACT team when he was a head coach at the University of Alabama. After becoming head coach at Purdue in the summer of 2019 and bringing Chris Marx on board as the Boilermakers’ pitching coach, they were keen to reconnect with the IMPACT team. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process down, but the IMPACT team ultimately linked Purdue baseball to the Teyema family.
While symptoms can vary widely in people with Singleton-Merten syndrome, the main symptoms of Graham include dental dysplasia, osteoporosis of the hands and feet, muscle weakness, and stunted growth. Inflammation of the joints and acute sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures are also concerns.
Fortunately, Graham has no signs of heart calcifications which can also be a symptom of Singleton-Merten. An annual cardiology visit is part of his doctor’s regular appointments. Riley Children’s Hospital and Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis have been invaluable resources for the Teyema family. Graham is undergoing physical and occupational therapy at Riley and his senior pediatrician is on a team of doctors at PMCH.
“We see a lot of different specialists,” says Brandi Teyema. “Dr. Stacey Tarvin, rheumatologist at Riley, and her colleagues have been her biggest advocates. They manage most of the symptoms with drugs ranging from daily steroids to biologics for the treatment of inflammation in her organs. of these drugs suppress his immune system so we are also careful about infectious diseases. We were very happy when he was 12 years old and was able to get the COVID vaccine! “
The Boilermakers were able to welcome the Teyema family on several occasions this fall. For the special signing ceremony and facility tour on September 30, Graham and his parents were joined by his grandparents, uncle, brother, sister-in-law and nephew. Much of Purdue’s roster attended the signing ceremony in the media room at Mackey Arena and Graham had the opportunity to interact with the players at Alexander Field as well as view his locker in the Alexander Clubhouse.
“What impressed me, Graham, when I first met you was your attitude. Talking with your mom and dad, just the things that come your way – it’s okay,” said Goff that day at Mackey. “That’s what stood out for me and for our players; they said this guy is the epitome of a Boilermaker baseball player. Tough, relentless, passionate and the big word we use all the time, resilient – absolutely resilient in what you do. Because of that, we want to offer you a scholarship. We are very grateful that you have chosen Boilermakers. “
While many of her extended family are Purdue alumni, Graham’s sister Natalie left the Midwest to study at Ole Miss and pursue a master’s degree at Boston College. It was Natalie’s bond with Ole Miss that led to a Rebels hat also being on the table at the signing ceremony as Graham announced he had chosen to become a Boilermaker. Graham said at the event that he is also a fan of the Colts, Pacers, Cubs and Indianapolis 500 as well as all of the Purdue teams.
“We had a great time with the team. Graham is still in seventh heaven,” Brandi said after the family returned to Frankfurt. “We are taking it one day at a time and have even used the research in Germany to navigate this rare disease. He has very few sad moments and it brings great joy to his father and me. Graham certainly teaches us a lot. lessons about rare diseases. We realized that society’s obsession with being ‘normal’ or fitting into a certain box just doesn’t exist in our world. And that’s okay. “
Brandi found strength and camaraderie in Emily Perl Kingsley’s essay “Welcome to Holland. Written by a mother of a child with special needs, it tells the story of a long planned trip taking a family to Holland instead of Italy. “It resonated so well with me when I was there. read for the first time. This is a good explanation of what parents go through when they have a rare child, diagnosed or not. I downloaded it to my phone and read it every now and then to remind myself that Holland is an amazing place too. “
Founded in 2011, the IMPACT team has matched more than 2,100 children with more than 700 universities in 49 states, affecting more than 60,000 student-athletes.
The IMPACT team has over 1,200 teams across the country waiting to be matched with children, ages 5 to 16, who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening or chronic illness and who may benefit from becoming a member of the ‘team. If you know of a child who might be interested, please visit TeamImpact.org for more information.