Rams Sport Grey to Support Child With Brain Tumor

KINGSTON, R.I. – For the last week, Rhode Island athletes have been passing on wearing their Keaney Blues in favor of grey workout gear to show support for 4-year-old Brooke Healey.

Healey (pictured left with her mother and brother Ashton) is the middle child of Stefani and Steve Healey from New Providence, N.J. Stefani Healey and Jess Lizzi, associate head coach of the Rhode Island women's rowing team, were roommates at Rutgers University. Steve Healey was a wrestler at Rutgers, sharing the student-athlete bond with Lizzi.

On January 14, Brooke Healey was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Giloma (DIPG), an inoperable brain tumor. On Monday, she began radiation for the tumor, which is located in the pons sack at the stemof the brain.

The pons sack controls consciousness as well as all the vital organs in the body. In cases involving DIPG, there is a 98 percent fatality rate, with the other two percent of cases believed to be a misdiagnosis or lower grade Giloma. No successful attempts to operate on and remove such tumors have been recorded, and biopsies are very risky, as the slightest movement of the needle could touch the inside of the pons and shut down the heart or other vital organs.

Lizzi has spearheaded an effort from the varsity teams at Rhode Island to provide hope and love to the Healey family.

"Stefani and Steve are amazing parents and they are showing such strength during an impossible time," Lizzi said. "My goal is to show them that there is a tremendous amount of love and support for them. TEAM BROOKE is going strong here in Rhode Island."

So far, the rowing, golf, baseball, softball, women's basketball and men's and women's track teams all have taken pictures in support of Brooke. Lizzi has been posting them to the
Rhody Rowing Facebook page as well as the Team Brooke (Healey) Facebook page.

Lizzi said there were two reasons for reaching out to the different teams. First, to provide support for Brooke, and also to bring awareness to the issue of brain cancer. Grey is the official color for brain cancer, which is why URI's teams are taking pictures in their grey clothing.

"When anyone is dealing with a situation this heavy, just knowing that you have support is comforting," Lizzi said. "Brooke has been able to go on the Internet and see these pictures that are coming in, and it gives the family hope."

When the family saw the Rhody baseball team's photo for Brooke, Stefani Healey wrote, "Brooke is going to love this one. Big strong cute men with hearts. Love this. Thank you."

Fundraisers are being held for the family to help with costs not covered by their insurance. To contribute to the cause, please visit
Heartworks.org.