Boy, 9, Battling Rare Kidney Cancer Becomes Honorary Member of Harvard Football Team

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Joining the elite ranks of Harvard's football team is no easy feat — especially for a 9-year-old.

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Daniel Grapski, who is suffering from a rare kidney cancer, became an honorary member of the university's squad over the weekend, despite only being in the fourth grade.

"He loves sports, ever since he's been walking around," his mother, Sonya Marquez, told "Sports really kept him going and trying to keep his normal routine."

With the help of Team IMPACT, an organization that matches kids battling life threatening illnesses and sports teams they admire, Daniel was invited to become the newest of Harvard's 109-member-strong team.

"When he found out he's going to partner with Harvard's football team, he was so excited," Marquez said.

The fourth grader spent the day meeting with his new teammates before he signed a letter of intent to make it official.

Daniel even spent the rest of the afternoon watching the team practice, and even got the chance to throw the ball around.

"When a family goes through something difficult, it's really amazing to have those friendships and community," his mother said.

She told that the family discovered his cancer when, in April, he complained about a lump in his side, and painful cramps.

Within two days, he was in emergency surgery. The following week, he began chemotherapy.

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But, Marquez said since he's completed treatment and heard he would be spending time with Harvard's football team, Marquez said his mood has taken a turn for the better.

"It's really about the power of a team, and giving this child that sense of team and community," Erika Loomer of Team IMPACT told "The team is impacted by this, too. They're inspired by the child, and they play for their new young teammate."

For more information about Team IMPACT, visit their website here.

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