For eight year old Brigitte Kaiser, the Tewksbury Youth Football program was more than just a fun thing to do after school.
It was a chance for her to escape a lifetime of medical concerns and social isolation, a chance to be with children her own age and meet them as a peer and as a teammate.
“Things are a lot harder for her to do than typical children,” said Brigitte’s mother, Shannon. “(Tewksbury Youth Football) was so welcoming and so happy to hear that she was interested. They opened their arms and said of course Brigitte can be a part of this.”
Brigitte Kaiser was diagnosed with Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic defect with principal features including congenital heart defects. Brigitte was also the first person in the world diagnosed with TUBB2B gene defect, and has also suffered from learning disabilities.
In her short life, Brigitte has spent over 400 nights as a patient in Children’s Hospital and undergone multiple open heart and abdominal surgeries. For most of her life, Brigitte has eaten through tubes.
When faced with such a child, Tewksbury Youth Football did not flinch.
“(The league) never hesitated,” Shannon said. “There was never a question of whether they would let her participate.”
“Brigitte has been through so much, and it is huge to just give her a little bit of fun,” said league president Rob Rosa. “I love that more than anything.”
Want to learn more about Noonan Syndrome? Check out RASopathienet.org.