Media, Pa. (WTXF) - She's only 10 years old but Ziah Oyler is already on a college tour. Staff and students showed her around the campus of Penn State Brandywine this afternoon. But the highlight of the day is what happened inside the gymnasium with Ziah and the women's softball team.
"We are super excited to welcome Ziah as family to the Penn State Brandywine family today yes?" said the Athletic Director. The team held a special draft day ceremony for Ziah to sign a national letter of intent to become part of the team.
"April 30th 2018 Ziah officially becomes a member of our Penn State Brandywine community. Welcome to the family."
It's all part of Team Impact. It’s a national non-profit that places local college athletic teams with children who have serious or chronic illnesses.
"It makes me feel very good," said Ziah who has spent nearly the past month with the team.
"They're very nice. I'd love to see them often and to just hang out," she said. Two years ago doctors diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes her joints to over-extend. It makes her susceptible to injury.
"She can't do monkey bars and she had to drop out of ninja gymnastics class because she was having issues with her joints and having to wear braces and stuff," said her mother Beth. Ziah’s father says he’s seen a change in his little girl since this opportunity with the softball team.
“For days after first time she met she was talking non-stop about the team and this is the first time we've seen her really excited about engaging in something," he said. Ziah loves computer coding, math, science and chemistry. The team says they knew right away she's a smart girl.
"I remember after the first game I'll never forget she was like you guys did so well and we were like you have better grammar than half of us on the team so she's just awesome," said Julie Foeldes the team’s captain. Ziah received signing gifts and team memorabilia she says she will cherish.
"Now I'm part of a family that is now a big part of my life," she said.
This weekend the team will play in the university's conference championship at State College. They hope Ziah will be in the dug-out to cheer them on.