Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam
Steven and Sean on the Polar Bear Cam

Friday, January 16, 2009

Comets' 10th man: Young cancer patient inspires Palomar hoops team

This article about Steven (below) appeared in a local paper earlier this week.

Source: North County Times.

By RICK HOFF - For the North County Times

SAN MARCOS ---- A ton of inspiration can come in a small package. Just ask anyone associated with the Palomar College men's basketball team.

As the Comets get into the meat of their Pacific Coast Conference schedule, they need not look any farther than their own bench for a pick-me-up, courtesy of Steven Bell.

"Steven is like our 10th man," says sophomore guard Theo Overstreet, the team's leading scorer. "We're glad to have him support us, which he always does whether we lose or we win."

Steven, an eighth-grade honors student at Carmel Valley Middle School, was on the bench again Saturday night at the Dome, where the Comets improved to 3-2 in PCC play with a 71-67 come-from-behind win over Grossmont.

"He seems to be good luck for us," said sophomore center Richard LaFleur, who scored 21 points in Saturday's victory. "It's definitely nice having him around."

Steven and his family, including parents Doug and Kathy and younger brother Sean, feel the same way.

"I was diagnosed with it three days after my ninth birthday," says Steven, who speaks of his condition with a comfortable ease. "I had the surgery, and I continued to have treatment at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital."

The noted pediatric cancer hospital, founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas and located in Memphis, Tenn., has provided Steven with chemotherapy and radiation treatments for the last five years.

"It was every three months for three years, then every six months the last two years," Steven said. "We go again in February, and if everything checks out OK, I'll only have to go back once a year after that."

In the meantime, Steven can carry on with his affliction for hoops. When he isn't watching younger brother Sean play in his Carmel Valley recreational youth league, Steven can be found at practices and games for the Palomar men's team.

"I love watching basketball," he says. "I've been interested in it a long time."

The connection to Palomar College came via the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, a New York- based program dedicated to matching young brain tumor patients with local college and high school sports teams.

As with young Jaclyn Murphy, who was matched with the Northwestern women's lacrosse team, nearly all of the participants in the FOJ program are from the Midwest or East Coast. The program was founded by Jaclyn's father, Denis Murphy.

"A mutual friend helped put me in touch with Denis, and we found out there was a team in the San Diego area Steven could connect with," Kathy Bell said. "It's really been good for him."

As all cancer patients and their families know, treatment can be a tough go.

"He's held up very well," Kathy said of her son. "He's had four stem-cell transplants, and that can be a really rough treatment."

The Comets have helped provide some tonic.

"Inspiring Steven may be the best thing these guys do all season," Palomar assistant coach Brad Hollingsworth said.

"It helps us knowing that we help him," LeFleur said. "We play harder when he's around.

"How can you not?"

For more information on the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, visit

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Blogger martysjotd said...

That's so cool that Steven can support a team like this! The Friends of Jaclyn sounds like a great Foundation. We contacted them about 6 months ago and said Jimmy was interested, but they said, "Sorry, we're swamped with teams and requests. We'll get back with you." I haven't heard back from them yet.

January 17, 2009 4:12 AM  

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