MUSCLE SHOALS, ALA. — The rain on Saturday (12/2) could not dampen the spirits of all who attended the signing of 11 year-old Azaiah Lopez, from Muscle Shoals, to the Northwest Shoals baseball team and Patriot family.

Azaiah signs with Patriots Baseball on Saturday at NWSCC
Azaiah signs with Patriots Baseball on Saturday at NWSCC

According to NWSCC Patriots Athletic Director Taylor Franks, when the College received this opportunity from the Alabama Community College Conference and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, it jumped at the opportunity.

“We are our community’s college,” said Franks. “If members of our community need us, we want to be their first call. When we found out about Azaiah and that we could adopt him and provide he and his family with additional support, our whole athletic department was pumped.”

NWSCC Baseball team poses for a photo with Azaiah following his signing
NWSCC Baseball team poses for a photo with Azaiah following his signing

Lopez has been battling pediatric cancer. However, less than a month ago the family received the news that his cancer was in remission.

“When Azaiah’s mom, Tiffany was telling his story to the crowd, there was hardly a dry eye in the room,” said NWSCC President Dr. Jeff Goodwin. “It was great for all of us to hear, but it really gave our student-athletes a perspective of how fortunate they are to be able to continue to play the game they love.”

Azaiah with his family after signing with the Patriots on Saturday
Azaiah with his family after signing with the Patriots on Saturday

The event was made possible through the Alabama Community College Conference (ACCC) and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. The goal is to create a support system that extends beyond the conventional boundaries of a sports team, providing comfort and encouragement to the children and their families.

FOJ Founder Denis Murphy speaks about what the Foundation means to children like Azaiah
FOJ Founder Denis Murphy speaks about what the Foundation means to children like Azaiah

NWSCC was one of nine ACCC colleges to adopt children over the past two weeks.

The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation was created by Dennis Murphy. His daughter, Jaclyn, was diagnosed with a medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, and she became connected to and later adopted by the Northwestern University lacrosse team as an honorary team member. Jaclyn’s strength, courage, relentless spirit, and joy for life inspired the players, he said. The team went on to a perfect season, winning their first NCAA national championship in 64 years.

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About Northwest Shoals Community College:
Northwest Shoals Community College (NWSCC) is part of the Alabama Community College System and home to approximately 4,200 students. NWSCC offers over 100 certificate and degree programs and is committed to providing career technical, academic, athletic and lifelong educational opportunities that promote economic growth and enrich the quality of life for the people it serves. For more information about the NWSCC, visit https://nwscc.edu/.