What would you do for a burrito? Earlier this month, Harvard men’s lacrosse proved that they would do a lot. They would raise more than $33,000 for a burrito—and for Team IMPACT.
For the past three seasons, the team has been matched with Braxton, a 13-year-old boy who lives with spina bifida. Since Braxton joined the team, he has helped form community and support that goes both ways. In the three years since, Harvard men’s lacrosse has dedicated their Burrito Bowl—their intersquad scrimmage where the winners get burritos and the losers get salads—to raising awareness and donations for Team IMPACT.
This year, the Crimson hoped to nearly triple their contribution from last year’s Burrito Bowl. Through the sale of limited-edition Burrito Bowl t-shirts, on-campus solicitation, in-game donations, a dedicated fundraising page, and generous support from the entire Harvard Athletics community, the team did that and more, surpassing their initial fundraising goal by nearly 300%.
“Team IMPACT is important to Harvard Lacrosse because it opens the door to lifelong friendships and valuable perspectives,” said junior member of the lacrosse team and Team IMPACT Fellow Owen Gaffney. “Braxton has and will continue to be our friend for life. Our relationship with Braxton extends beyond the lacrosse field. He comes with us to the museum, to the aquarium, to the squash courts. We watch movies and trick-or-treat together for Halloween. It is such a great time.”
“Braxton means everything to our team. He is our teammate in every sense of the word,” Owen continued. “His dedication to our team is evident; he braves the cold, snowy weather to watch us play every game, and he comes to support us at practice. He reminds us of the blessing that it is to play lacrosse with our best friends. He always puts on a smile, which is infectious.”
Owen and fellow junior Team IMPACT Fellow Max Ewald have played huge roles in the success of the Burrito Bowl. Their unbreakable bond with Braxton inspired them to do more on their team and in their community, a mindset that has bled into the rest of the team.
“Over the course of his time on campus, Coach Byrne has taught us the value of contributing positively to the local community, and his support in these initiatives is what makes it happen. Through events like the Burrito Bowl, we are able showcase our skills and invigorate the local community,” Owen said. “Team IMPACT truly makes a difference, and we are so grateful. Supporting them is the least we can do. Team IMPACT changes lives for the better, and it’s a blessing to be a small part of that contribution. With the Burrito Bowl, we are able to raise awareness for Team IMPACT, and we hope to do so for years to come.”
Braxton’s match on the men’s lacrosse team is just one of the many incredible Team IMPACT relationships across Harvard Athletics. Since 2011, 17 children have been matched to Harvard rosters in 13 sports, with current matches on four teams: Matilda and women’s lacrosse, Parker and men’s hockey, Max and men’s basketball, and Maddy and women’s soccer.
Along with hundreds of Fellows across the country, Owen and Max are dedicated to increasing awareness for Team IMPACT and growing the program’s reach on their campuses—and the memories they are creating will go with them far beyond their time as college athletes. “Through my experiences with Braxton, Team IMPACT, and Fellowship, I have learned the value of being grateful,” Owen said. “So often in life, we take the little things for granted—walking, breathing, talking. Being a Fellow for Team IMPACT and spending time with Braxton has improved our lives tenfold. I can confidently call Braxton one of my closest friends, and I am excited for the memories to come!”
Thank you to Owen, Max, and the entire Harvard lacrosse community for showing us how one important moment can create unmeasurable impact—demonstrating support and dedication that will give the Team IMPACT experience to dozens of kids like Braxton and teams like Harvard lacrosse for years to come.