MEDFORD - In a star-studded event held Tuesday night at Gillette Stadium - home of the New England Patriots - the biggest star of them all was Zack Cummings, a courageous 15-year old boy from Saugus, Massachusetts, who was drafted by the Tufts University football team.
Zack and the Jumbos were connected through Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization which works to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by pairing them with collegiate athletic teams.
A sophomore at St. Mary's High School in nearby Lynn, Mass., Zack was diagnosed in January 2017 with Acute Lymphoblastic Lymphoma (ALL), a non-Hodgkin lymphoma that mainly affects children and teenagers. Currently in remission, Zack is bravely enduring the effects of chemotherapy and other treatments.
Through Team IMPACT's program at Division III Tufts, the top recruit – who has a Jumbo passion for football – became an official member of the football team. Through the program, Zack will attend Jumbo practices, games, team dinners, events, and more. He sat front and center with the rest of the Jumbos in the Tufts team photo taken last Saturday.
Tuesday night's special event took place during the third annual Tufts Football Kickoff Event, hosted on field level at Gillette Stadium. Zack’s Draft Day was attended by more than 300 Jumbo alumni and friends. He signed an official Letter of Intent before his new teammates and coaches as well as more than 40 family members and friends. The Jumbo football team – coming off its best finish in 18 years – welcomed Zack, presenting him with official Tufts Football gear.
Special remarks were made by Tufts Head Coach Jay Civetti, Team IMPACT co-founder Dan Kraft and Team IMPACT Executive Director Seth Rosenzweig.
As a highlight of the evening, Zack was greeted by Robert Kraft, CEO of the New England Patriots. Mr. Kraft brought the Vincent Lombardi Trophy with him, earned by the Patriots for winning the 2017 Super Bowl. Zack got to hold the Super Bowl trophy as well as try on Mr. Kraft's Super Bowl ring. He also chatted with former Patriots offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer.
Several Boston television outlets covered the special event. To top it all off, Zack and his family were invited back to Gillette Stadium for the Patriots' season-opening game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night.
"I’m speechless, to be honest with you," Zach told the TV stations. "This is maybe the greatest day of my life.”
Friends as students at Tufts in the late 1980s, Jay Calnan, Kris Herman, Dan Kraft, Robert Tishman and Dan Walsh helped found Team IMPACT. Eleven teammates have been drafted by Tufts University teams since its beginning in 2011. Learn more about the organization at http://www.goteamimpact.org/.
Zack Cummings Team IMPACT Draft Event