BRADENTON, Fla. – IMG Academy began their inaugural season of high school football this year, and the Ascenders are not only doing well on the field, but they are also doing good things off of it.
For a young, high school athlete who is young, wild and free, it is difficult to get perspective; unless of course that athlete has the chance to meet Josh Fisher. "Josh is a 5-year-old boy with acute lymphoblastic from the time he was 2 1/2, and he has tried all the treatments and protocols," says Josh’s mom, Jessica Fisher.
Josh has had the opportunity to be the unofficial mascot and team buddy for the undefeated Ascenders. He has been on the sidelines for every game, thanks to the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, which pairs high school and college teams with children suffering from brain cancer.
"He can't be on his own football team, so if he can be on their team, it's a wonderful opportunity for all of them to experience,” says dad Patrick Fisher.
Chris Weinke, the former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida State, is the team’s head coach, and he has seen the effect Josh has on his team -- and he feels it himself, as well. "Our goal is to be the best you can be individually. But more importantly, see how many lives you can change for other people. He comes out here with great energy and enthusiasm every time he comes out here and I think it is a great message to send to our team."
It's a win-win situation. "It's a symbiotic relationship because he inspires them, which is great, but they inspire him, too. They send inspirational messages and cheer him on, just like he cheers them on during the games," says Patrick.
Josh may not be on his own football team, but he's pretty sure he has the talent to play for IMG right now.
"Seeing him makes you really want to put as much effort into the game, and he serves as a great motivation for us throughout the game," says quarterback Michael O’Connor.