Signing day is an important day for a high school senior, in which he or she signs a binding contract to go to a certain college and play a certain sport. But for four-year-old Mickey Macholl, signing day is a few years early.
Friends, family and media gathered last Tuesday evening to see Mickey officially sign with the UNC Men’s Tennis Team. Mickey was being treated for a type of cancer called neuroblastoma at UNC Children’s Hospital, when he was drafted with the tennis team by an organization called Team IMPACT.
“They visited in the day clinic, they sat with him in waiting rooms while he was waiting for PET scans,” said Rachel Macholl, Mickey’s mother. “They kept him busy and they tease him, he teases them right back, they play video games together, they have food together, they’re just great people.”
She said the signing day celebration is because Mickey, and the rest of the family are going to a different treatment facility for integrated therapy in Arizona for six weeks.
She said integrated medicine is still relatively new, and there are few places that offer this type of treatment.
“It fixes the cause, rather than just a Band-Aid that kills the tumors,” Rachel said. “So we’re really excited to get started. We’ve had a lot of support with the community from our hometown in West Haven, Connecticut, as well as North Carolina where we’ve moved and had all three kids and built our life here.”
Robert Kelly is a UNC junior and tennis player. He’s also in charge of community outreach for the men’s tennis team. He said adding Mickey to the team was an important and rewarding experience.
“You’d be dealing with your day-to-day struggles and you’d realize how petty it is just because of the struggle he’s going through,” he said. “It’s been really helpful for us, and I think we’ve matured and become better human beings because of him.”
Mickey’s mom said even though the family is going away for awhile, the tennis team is their family. She said all the Macholl family want now is for everyone to continue to keep Mickey in their thoughts.
“We just ask that people follow his story on Facebook under Mickey’s Fight and continue to send good thoughts and prayers,” she said. “And just to keep up with the prayers and support for him because that’s what’s going to get him through.”
The family said they plan on returning to Chapel Hill for follow-up tests after the six week protocol in Tempe, Arizona.