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Beyond the Game: Little Rock Trojans sign 9-year-old Edyn Grace

Edyn Grace (KATV photo)

Nine-year-old Edyn Grace Walterhouse made her future ambitions known as she signed a National Letter of Intent to join Little Rock's swimming and diving program on Wednesday.

Walterhouse's signing was assisted by Team IMPACT, who mission is to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses through the power of team. In 2017, Edyn was diagnosed with a rare, degenerative neuromuscular disease called CAPOS.

"We'll do everything we can to include Edyn in our team activities," Little Rock swimming and diving head coach Amy Burgess said. "We'll do specific activities with her, and it's going to be huge for her to cheer us on at practice and our swim meets. Edyn Grace really is an inspiration. No matter how tough life gets, it's amazing when she comes onto the pool deck. The few times that she has come with us, it's been smiles and excitement, and you can see it in her. It's fun to watch the girls want to get to know her and try to talk to her. It's wonderful to see these girls get out of their comfort zone and everyday college life to connect with someone like Edyn Grace."

Her short life has been far from easy. She was abandoned at the hospital in Peru, when her birth mother realized she was not able to take care of another child. Edyn was born premature with multiple health issues, most of which were not discovered until she was a few years old. The Walterhouse family adopted her three years ago.

"It means a lot to a little girl to have some female role models to love on her and encourage her when she's down," Edyn's mother Michelle Walterhouse said. "It's great seeing how excited she gets to spend time with other ladies."

Team IMPACT is a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, MA that connects children facing serious or chronic illnesses with college athletic teams, forming life-long bonds and life-changing outcomes. Team IMPACT children are drafted onto college athletic teams, local to where they live, and to the greatest extent possible, become a member of the team from signing day through to graduation. Since 2011, Team IMPACT has matched more than 1,200 children with more than 450 colleges and universities in 46 states, reaching over 35,000 participating student-athletes.

"We know she likes to cheer people up, and she's excited to be part of a great team like this," Edyn's father Jonathan Walterhouse said. "She loves water, and any chance she gets to get in the water with the team, she's going to take advantage of it."

This is Little Rock's second partnership with Team IMPACT in the last few years. The Trojans' baseball team signed Hunter Linam in 2016. You can watch that Beyond the Game story here.

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