Nine-year-old Edyn Walterhouse made her future ambitions known as she signed a National Letter of Intent to join the University of Arkansas at Little Rock’s swimming and diving program at the Donaghey Aquatic Center on Sept. 20.
Walterhouse’s signing was assisted by Team IMPACT, whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. In 2017, Edyn was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative neuromuscular disease called CAPOS Syndrome.
“We’ll do everything we can to include Edyn in our team activities,” Little Rock swimming and diving head coach Amy Burgess said. “We’ll do specific activities with her, and it’s going to be huge for her to cheer us on at practice and our swim meets.”
Edyn has been an inspiration to the team, Burgess said.
“No matter how tough life gets, it’s amazing when she comes onto the pool deck,” Burgess said. “The few times that she has come with us, it’s been smiles and excitement, and you can see it in her. It’s fun to watch the girls want to get to know her and try to talk to her. It’s wonderful to see these girls get out of their comfort zone and everyday college life to connect with someone like Edyn Grace.”
Team IMPACT children are drafted onto college athletic teams, close to where they live, and to the greatest extent possible, become a member of the team from signing day to graduation.
“It means a lot to a little girl to have some female role models to love on her and encourage her when she’s down,” Edyn’s mother Michelle Walterhouse said. “It’s great seeing how excited she gets to spend time with other ladies.”
Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds, and life-changing outcomes. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,200 children with more than 450 colleges and universities in 46 states, reaching over 35,000 participating student-athletes.
The child joins the athletic team and the student-athletes join the child’s support team. Throughout the journey, the child gains strength, camaraderie, and support while the student-athletes experience lessons of courage, resiliency, and perspective they can’t learn in a classroom.
“We’re thankful for the opportunity that Team IMPACT provides and that Little Rock swimming and diving is willing to partner with us and invite her to be a part of the team,” Edyn’s father Jonathan Walterhouse said. “We know she likes to cheer people up, and she’s excited to be part of a great team like this. She loves water, and any chance she gets to get in the water with the team, she’s going to take advantage of it.”
In the upper right photo, Edyn Walterhouse signs a letter of intent to join the UA Little Rock swimming and diving team. Pictured, from left to right, include the Trojan Man, Swimming and Diving Head Coach Amy Burgess, and the Walterhouses: Jonathan, Michelle, Jaiden, Levi, and Edyn.