December 7th, 2016 was a defining day for our son Nicholas Cioe and, moreover, for our entire
family. But, to start the story from the beginning we would need to go all the way back to July
25th, 2004. Nicholas arrived bright and early on that glorious day. He wasn’t crying though, nor
would he take his first breath for several minutes (…I’m not sure we exhaled for many more
years). Nick was blue and failed his first few APGAR tests. He eventually came around and we
wondered if we were out of the woods.
This fight, the struggle to simply achieve the expected, would become a familiar thread
throughout Nicholas’s journey. Over time, it was clear that there was a lot going on in his little
body but no one was quite sure what or how to help. There were many trips to multiple
hospitals, more tests, procedures, and evaluations than one could remember. Then the
surgeries started and hospital stays. The inability to verbally communicate or to walk. This
created an anxious child that had missed so much school and did not have a chance to develop
real friendships. All of these factors led to some very dark times and lots of treatment.
The difficult years of elementary school ended and through sheer drive, resiliency, and
determination Nicholas proved everyone wrong. He was not only walking and talking but
excelling in math and had developed a natural curiosity for science. He also grew into a
complete sport’s fanatic! As difficult as it was as parents, we agreed to sign him up for several
teams. Unfortunately, there were either broken bones, too many seizures, or, sadly, the inability
for teammates to accept the kid that had to work a lot harder.
The week middle school started we got a phone call that Team Impact had matched Nick with
the Brown University Men’s Lacrosse team. We had no idea what to expect but we showed up,
as we do. To say that we underestimated the impact the program and the team would have on
Nicholas and our family would be the biggest understatement ever.
That very first day in September, Nick shook Coach Daly’s hand and walked right through the
door, into the locker room, by himself. This was the same 12 year old that preferred me to walk
with him into school each day. I stood there, dumbfounded, trying to compose myself. From that
moment on it felt like we all became part of the Brown LAX family. Nick was included in
everything; practices, lift, team photos, meetings, and games. It was exactly what he needed, to
be embraced as part of a team. To have 40 big brothers checking up on him and genuinely
caring about him. Within 2 weeks Nicholas asked me to wait in the car so he could go into
school on his own. He hasn’t looked back since.
Then came December 7th, 2016, Nicholas’s draft day. Team Impact and the Coaches pulled out
all the stops for our boy. I have never seen him so proud or shine so brightly. Today, almost 6
years later he still proudly shares with anyone who will listen about ‘HIS TEAM’. They have
gotten Nicholas through multiple surgeries with countless facetime calls, hospital visits, texts,
and even some Playstation battles at our house. They encouraged Nick to try wrestling, and
they showed up on his sidelines. They cheered him on with so much pride and love, there
wasn’t a dry eye in the whole gym, and every classmate was in awe. Just what Nick needed.
Nicholas rarely misses a game and the team rarely misses a chance to cheer him on. There
have been many times we’ve come to pick him up and the team is doing Nick’s post-op
stretches with him or cheering him on through a push-up competition. I wish I could adequately
put into words how this team has built Nick’s self-esteem. How they seamlessly recognize his
abilities and encourage him. The stellar example of drive, commitment, and respect they set
forth. It is not lost on us that all of this takes time and energy, something that is a high
commodity on a D1 team at Ivy League school and our gratitude is endless. They have not only
helped to mold a compassionate, respectful, loyal, and resilient young man, they have changed
his life, something we hope that many more children have the opportunity to experience.
Nicholas has shared some sentiments as well-
“I can’t imagine not having the team in my life. I feel like I’m a different person because of
everything they have done for me. The guys got me through so much. COVID was really tough
at first and they were there for me every minute. One time I had to have a procedure that was
really painful and I needed to stay awake for it. I facetimed with Jake Newsome for a bit and he
was so great. He really helped me stay calm. Then some of the other guys found out and called
me from their trip in Spain. It was the middle of the night for them but they were all there for me.
I really don’t think I could have done it without them.
Being able to be with the guys at games and practices means everything to me. I love cheering
them on and getting them hyped. It’s so awesome seeing them achieve so much and being able
to be part of it. I keep in touch with a lot of the guys that have already graduated and that’s been
great too. I am so thankful for everything and can’t imagine my life without my team!”
With hearts full of thanks and gratitude,
and Kevin, Laura, and Claudia too