College Basketball

Davidson had honorary Wildcat in its corner for NCAA tournament

Davidson participates in the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships at KeyArena on Thursday in Seattle, Washington. The Wildcats have been inspired by 16-year-old Chris West.
Davidson participates in the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Championships at KeyArena on Thursday in Seattle, Washington. The Wildcats have been inspired by 16-year-old Chris West. TIM COWIE - DavidsonPhotos.com

A most-valuable Davidson Wildcat cheered on his team from afar Friday night.

Chris West, a 16-year-old from Concord, is an honorary member of Davidson’s team, which lost 83-52 to Iowa in the Wildcats’ opening game in the NCAA tournament.

Chris has Stage IV Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was “signed” by the Wildcats in 2014 through Team IMPACT, an organization that matches sick children with local college teams. Chris watched the game from home.

Chris, whose other favorite team is the Carolina Panthers, has attended several Wildcats practices, where he shoots around with the players. Chris also went to last season’s Southern Conference tournament in Asheville and a game at Belk Arena this season against Duquesne.

“Chris is a pretty big part of what we do and who we are,” guard Brian Sullivan said. “He helps keep things in perspective, when we see how we can help kids with the platform we have.”

Chris wants to help others, too. Last fall he had a bone-marrow transplant, a difficult surgery that sapped a lot of his energy and compromised his immune system. However, after 100 days – a key milestone in recovery – Chris decided to perform 100 acts of kindness for others at Levine Children’s Hospital.

Chris handed out gift cards and bought dinner for other families at the hospital (donated through his Facebook page), took balloons to other children and organized a scavenger hunt.

Chris also noticed that the hospital’s video games were outdated. So he found a way to have 200 new video games donated.

“I just like to give back,” said Chris, who wants to be a sportscaster when he grows up. “There are a lot of people who have picked me up through some hard times. Everybody can use a little pick-me-up.”

Team IMPACT continues to gain popularity rapidly since its 2011 inception, with nearly 300 schools now involved nationwide. Several other teams in the Carolinas – including Belmont Abbey baseball, Duke men’s basketball and Queens swimming – have honorary players.

The Charlotte 49ers’ women’s basketball team added honorary player Faith Dixon, 17, of Concord, last summer. Faith has a rare blood type and was awaiting a kidney transplant when she joined with the 49ers. Faith was honored by the 49ers after their “Senior Day” game against Rice last month.

Scott: 704-358-5889;

Twitter: @davidscott14

More information

For more information on Team IMPACT: http://www.goteamimpact.org/

Chris West’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/prayersforchriswest

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