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May 6, 2013

Lawrence 6th-grader gets to live hockey dream while dealing with life-threatening illness

Salem State University Vikings draft Bryen Davies to be their teammate for fall hockey season.

LAWRENCE — Bryen Davies wishes he could lace up a pair of ice skates, put on a uniform, grab a hockey stick, go to a local rink and play his favorite sport.

Because of cystic fibrosis, a chronic genetic disorder that affects his lungs and digestive system, the 13-year-old Lawrence boy can only dream about slapping a puck past a goaltender trying to block his shot into the net.

“No tackle football or ice hockey,” Brenda Davies said in an interview last week as she explained the forbidden, physical contact sports for her son. Playing either sport could jeopardize his health because rough play might damage a feeding tube planted in his stomach to make sure he gets adequate nutrition, she said.

The only kind of hockey Brenda lets her son play is in the living room or on a neighborhood street with a stick and a plastic puck she bought him for his birthday

But the Salem State University Vikings men’s hockey team is giving Bryen a chance to live his ice hockey dream, at least as a teammate.

The 4-foot-6-inches tall-75-pound sixth grader from the South Lawrence East Middle School will be sitting on the bench this fall with the Vikings, wearing his own jersey with his name and number “13” – the one he picked out for himself – printed on the back. The team “drafted” him through a partnership with Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization based in Quincy which seeks to improve the quality of life for children with life-threatening illnesses by matching them up with local college athletic teams.

On April 24, the team welcomed Bryen to its 2013-14 roster with a special draft ceremony held at O’Keefe Sports Center in Salem, Mass. Bryen and his parents were treated to a tour of the Salem State campus, a photo shoot session with his Vikings teammates, dinner in the cafeteria and the official signing of a “letter of intent.”

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