In His Element, Robo Shines With BC
Published: Sunday, February 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
He's been a lifelong fan of Boston College, and now, at the age of 13, Robo Arcand has become a member of the men's basketball team. But there's more to the story than just that.
When he was in first grade, Robo was diagnosed with Leukemia, and began a 25-month battle with the horrible, life-threatening disease. During that time, Robo missed out on a huge list of things that normal kids his age get to enjoy on a daily basis, physically, emotionally, and socially. During the 25 months of treatment and chemotherapy, it was sports that got Robo through it all.
And so when Robo and his family, on a visit to Camp Sunshine in Maine, heard about Team IMPACT—the organization that matches children with life-threatening diseases with college teams—they knew it was something that would be a great experience for Robo.
"Basically, [Team IMPACT's] whole feeling is that these kids that are going through cancer, or have gone through cancer, have missed out on so much," said Robo's mom Anne. "Obviously being sick for a long time, they lose out on so much socially. And in our case, [Robo] couldn't go out on play dates. He went through treatment for over two years, so it was a long haul—first, second, and third grade.
"And he's a huge fan. He's big into stats and all of that. He also has played a lot of rec ball and things like that, but he doesn't have the endurance that other kids his age have. He missed out on so much in terms of camps and things, so when we heard about Team IMPACT and their whole theory that you take these kids and set them up with the team, make them part of the team, it seemed like the perfect opportunity, something that he'd be totally into.
Little did they know, according to Anne, how lucky they would be with their matched-up team.
After the visit to Camp Sunshine and learning about Team IMPACT, Anne initiated contact with the organization. She got in touch with Maura Mahoney, the director of Outreach and Communications (and BC '09) for Team IMPACT.
"His mother contacted me, and she mentioned that Robo was a huge fan of Mark Herzlich, and really took to him and his whole cancer journey," Mahoney said. "He was just a huge BC fan in general."
It was after this phone call that Mahoney reached out to BC to see if she could make the connection possible, and head basketball coach Steve Donahue was at the top of the list, "with his program being such an incredible team with the community service," Mahoney said. "He just really jumped on, and it's taken off from there."
"Any time you can expose kids to outside this isolated world of college basketball, show them how fortunate and grateful you should be for everything that comes with this, I think these are the situations I look for," Donahue said. "So when I saw that, I thought, ‘Man, that's a great organization, it's got a great chance for us to make a huge impact on a kid's life.'"
"Of all the places that he could be, [BC] would have been his first choice," Anne said. "So he was beyond thrilled. He couldn't believe that this is who he was going to be set up with."
In mid-October, Robo had his "draft day" with the team, where he first met Donahue and the Eagles. And Robo came prepared. With him, he brought depth charts of all the ACC opponents for the coaching staff, and full ACC scouting reports for the whole team. He also made shields for each of the players' lockers.
"That was funny," said freshman guard Lonnie Jackson. "We really didn't know what to expect when the coaches told us about him. We were coming in open-minded, but he came in and was not shy at all. It was cool."
"Well, I knew then he was really interested in our team and knew a lot about us," Donahue said about receiving the scouting reports from Robo. "It's great. He has a love of the game, of college basketball. He had a great insight on who's good on other teams. It was just fun to see a kid that young and that excited about being around a college basketball team. That's all positive, and I think it's great for our guys to see that kind of enthusiasm as well."
Since that day, Robo's relationship with the BC squad has been mutually beneficial for him and the team, in addition to the whole Arcand family. They sit behind the BC bench at every home game and try to make at least one practice a week, where Robo helps out the coaches with the drills.
"It's a breath of fresh air when he's around," said senior Pete Rehnquist. "Sometimes he'll have a little funny comment here or there, and it gives us a good laugh. He knows basketball pretty well. It's nice having him around."