The nine-time national champion Florida Southern baseball team added a special player to its roster for the 2017 season today with the signing of 14-year Dawson Anderson.
"We are excited to add Dawson to our Moccasin family," said Taylor Gillis, an intern in the FSC Athletics Marketing Office who helped organize the event.
Team IMPACT is a non-profit organization based out of Quincy, MA which aims to improve the quality of life for children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses by matching them with athletic teams in their area to provide support, friendship and an improved sense of self-esteem.
"Last spring, we gave Dawson a tryout to come out and hang out with us at practice and games," said baseball head coach Lance Niekro. "I think he brought us some good luck and he passed the test. So, we're having this special day to officially make him a part of the team and a part of the FSC community."
"As a coach, you always look for that missing piece for the team and I strongly believe we've found it here with Dawson to take us to the next level," continued Niekro. "He just promised me five minutes ago that we would win more games than last year, so we're already starting off on the right foot."
Coach Niekro then presented Dawson with a FSC hat and jersey with his favorite number, 15, followed by a Q&A session with members of the Moccasin baseball team.
Q: "What are you going to be for Halloween?"
A: "I'm not sure I'm going to dress up as anything, but I might dress up my dog in tinfoil," answered Dawson, displaying his sense of humor.
Q: "Who do you want to win the World Series?"
A: "Is this a trick question?" replied Dawson, before revealing his choice, "the Cubs."
Q: "What are you most excited about in the upcoming season?"
A: "Well, we're going to win more than the men's lacrosse team, I can tell you that," said Dawson, drawing a roaring response from the 30-plus members of the baseball team in attendance. Dawson joins FSC's first Team Impact member, Justin Tankersley, signed by men's lacrosse on Feb. 6, 2015, and brothers Isaac and Austin Wieschowski, signed by men's basketball on Oct. 14, 2015.
Q: "Who is your favorite (Moccasin) player?"
A: "I'm not going to say one person," said Dawson. "I like all of you."
Dawson's mother, Laura Anderson, then gave some background on her son.
"Dawson has two chronic illnesses," said Mrs. Anderson. "If you guys ever donate blood, or know someone who does, we really push for that. His body can't produce antibodies, so he's (susceptible) to everything. He gets two different IV infusions every three weeks."
"It's wonderful to have people stand up and help in the awareness of what's going on," she added, "Blood donation is a really important factor. It's a live-saving drug for him. Thank you for involving him."
When Dawson was five years-old he was diagnosed with an Immune Dysfunction known as Common variable immune deficiency (CVID). CVID is a disorder that impairs the immune system. People with CVID are highly susceptible to infection from foreign invaders such as bacteria, or other viruses. Dawson does infusions through an IV every three weeks at home to help build up his antibodies and strengthen his immune system. On top of that, Dawson has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and, in addition to his IV infusions, he is taking several other medications.
According to Dawson, his favorite color is blue; and his favorite foods are pizza and hamburgers. His favorite cartoons are Charlie Brown and Sponge Bob and he loves watching America's Got Talent. For fun, Dawson enjoys camping at Boggy Creek, doing archery and playing Minecraft and Xbox1. Dawson and his family have two dogs – a black lab, Nickel III, who is his service dog, and the family Chihuahua named James Jr. (aka JJ).
The Moccasins are in the midst of fall practice and will begin the 2017 season in late January.