Boy battling rare disease becomes honorary member of Brown hockey team

Harry Borodemos, 8, at his “draft day” ceremony at Brown University.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An 8-year-old boy battling a rare, life-threatening autoimmune disease is now an honorary member of the Brown University men’s ice hockey team.

Harry Borodemos, a Fall River second-grader, signed with the team Monday, wasting no time putting on his new jersey and posing for team photos.

“I’m excited,” he said to a room full of his fellow teammates, friends, family and media.

Borodemos is battling juvenile dematomyositis, or JDM, a disease where the body’s immune system attacks its own cells and tissues. JDM impacts only two to four kids in a million. There is no cure but Borodemos is in treatment, and his mother said with prolonged treatment he could go into remission.

For now, it’s a regiment of daily pills and monthly infusions. On Monday, he officially began his two-year-long experience with the team, attending games, practices and off-the-ice activities with the players. His mother said it’s a welcome reprieve from the hospitals and doctors’ offices.

“This is huge for us,” Sophia Chaviari Borodemos said. “It takes a village, and this is the village.”

Borodemos’ experience made possible by Team Impact, a Massachusetts-based organization that matches children battling serious or chronic illnesses with college sports teams. Team Impact Executive Director Seth Rosenzweig said it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

“It has a huge impact on the children, but also the families and college athletes,” he said.

On Tuesday, Borodemos spent time playing video games with his new teammates. His mom said they came by the house on New Year’s Eve to eat pizza and have taken him out to the movies.

“To see him come in the locker room, he’s so psyched every time he gets to come hang out with us,” team member Connor Maher said. “I mean really, he’s made a bigger impact on us.”

“He battles and he’s determined and he has a positiveness to him,” Brown ice hockey coach Brendan Whittet said of Borodemos. “And I think those are traits that we look for in our athletes.”

Team Impact started in 2011 and has since matched more than 1,400 kids with colleges across the country. Rosenzweig said they have 1,200 college teams on their waiting list, and are looking for kids who would like to be matched with them. To learn more, visit the Team Impact website.