A serious illness has a chance to make a positive impact on a child's life.
A 9-year-old East Lansing girl with a chronic disease is the newest member of the Olivet College Volleyball team.
Team IMPACT aims to take the positive out of an otherwise tough situation, and Tuesday night did just that for a local girl.
Through Team IMPACT, the Olivet College Volleyball team drafted 9-year-old Lianna Shearer of East Lansing. Lianna has cystic hygroma and is the school's second recruit this year.
In May, the baseball team drafted and signed another child through Team IMPACT.
The experience is rewarding for both parties, each given the experience of a lifetime.
Lianna Shearer said, "I'm very excited, and it's amazing to be a part of this team."
Team member Gabi Mundt said, "It's great to have her, and it's really great that Olivet is part of the program this year. I know there are a few other sports teams involved here as well, so it's a great opportunity for everyone involved. I think more schools should consider involving other kids as well."
As a draftee and now a permanent member of the Comets, Lianna begins a long and meaningful relationship with Olivet College.
Megan Merchant is the Olivet volleyball head coach.
"She'll be traveling with us to a few of our games, going to the cider mill," Merchant said. "She just started cheerleading, so we hope to be able to go see her cheer. So it becomes a relationship where she's not just coming to us but we're going to her."
So far, it seems that Lianna is some sort of a good luck charm for the Olivet Volleyball team. Tuesday night, with their newest recruit on the sidelines, the Comets defeated Kalamazoo College 3-1. But that night, the game was one of the last things on their minds.
"The girls forget how blessed we are, that we get to do volleyball for life, so it's unique that we get to work with a student who maybe hasn't had all the same opportunities that we've had, and it helps us to remember that life is bigger than just volleyball."
And now, for the rest of the season, Lianna will be with her Comets, both as their top recruit and as their No. 1 fan.