March 21, 2011
QUEENS, N.Y. - This past fall, the St. John’s softball team adopted a five-year-old cancer patient named Jessica Martell through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation and welcomed the newest member of the Red Storm family during an October exhibition game. Jessica passed away early Saturday morning after fighting chordoma, a rare cancer, for over three years.
Head coach Amy Kvilhaug, assistant coach Andy Russo and the Red Storm softball players grew close to Jessica over the past five months, frequently visiting her and sending her well wishes. Jessica’s strength in the face of adversity was a source of inspiration for the team. “Princess Jessica,” as she was known by the team, had a shining smile even when times were tough and she made a lasting impression on everyone who met her.
Jessica battled through a year of chemotherapy, four months of radiation, rehab and other treatments. She leaves behind her parents, Denise and James Martell, and her younger brother, Matthew. Jessica, Denise and Matthew were in attendance for the Red Storm’s fall softball game against Sacred Heart on Oct. 9. The Red Storm welcomed its newest member before the game and Jessica and her family made their St. John’s membership official with a pre-game trip down the third-base line to cross home plate.
The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation is a charitable organization that is dedicated to improving the lives of those affected by pediatric brain tumors. It was founded in 2005 and inspired by a young patient named Jaclyn Murphy who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor, in March 2004 at the age of nine. For more information on the foundation, visit www.friendsofjaclyn.org.