CLEVELAND, Ohio – Head coach Dennis Felton of the Cleveland State University men's basketball team officially announced the newest addition to the Viking family Friday afternoon.
Cleveland State added Alek Petrinec to the program with a signing ceremony in the Wolstein Center Friday, the day before the team's home opener.
Petrinec, an 11-year-old from suburban Cleveland, has been diagnosed with a connective tissue disease known as Ehler's Danlos Syndrome. He had esophagus and gastrointestinal issues since birth and struggled with a low muscle tone. His body is in constant state of inflammation, and he has to contend with micro fractures in his back and arthritis in his knees.
Despite the challenges he faces on a daily basis, Petrinec does not let that define him as a person. Felton believes Petrinec's ability to fight adversity head on and overcome obstacles will serve as an inspiration to his current team.
Felton met with Petrinec earlier this month and made a verbal offer to join the Vikings, which Petrinec accepted. He will be with the team on gamedays, attend practice from time to time and be involved with the team for a variety of activities.
Felton discussed how Alek's addition will let members of the CSU program realize there is more to life than basketball. He hopes his players can be role models for Alek. At the same time, Alek can help lift the players' spirits with the energy he brings despite the challenges he faces.
Team IMPACT is a non-profit that seeks to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses. Across the nation, they create unparalleled team based support systems. Core to their model is harnessing the power of teamwork by matching these courageous kids with college athletic teams. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto local college athletic teams and become a member of the team. For more information on Team IMPACT, visit www.goteamimpact.org.