Reaching out through LifeSkills program
by Justin Phelps ‘05
Bradley men’s and women’s basketball players Daniel Ruffin ’07 and Kayla Hackman ‘05, pictured at right, have added “life skills” to their classroom and athletic studies.
The two point guards joined Bradley’s LifeSkills program last year to spend time with Clifford Dahl, a 7-year-old Peoria boy.
Dahl was diagnosed with Batten Disease in 2003. The rare neurological illness affects primarily children and will eventually cause mental impairment, seizures, and loss of motor skills and speech. Dahl has already lost his eyesight because of the incurable disease.
“It’s kind of a reality check,” Ruffin said, “Some people can complain about their lives; you can always find something wrong. But by being around him, you see that he would switch with you in a second. He would take your life in a heartbeat. It helps me be happy and satisfied with what I’ve got.”
Ruffin and Hackman visit Clifford at least once a month, but usually more depending on their academic and basketball schedule.
“I wish I could spend more time with him,” said Hackman, who has volunteered her time with children before. “I have a passion for kids in general. I love working with kids because at this age, with what I’m doing, I know there are a lot of kids looking up to athletes. I know that because when I was little, I did it. So I promised myself if I became an athlete, I’d return the favor.”
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