Westmoreland Wolves semi-pro football game to benefit West Newton teen cancer patient
A person from Jessica Chopp's past made his way back into her present to help make a difference for her 17-year-old son, who is fighting cancer.
The West Newton woman is grateful for the support of the Westmoreland Wolves, a semi-professional football team headed by her former softball coach, Brian Dippolito.
“We didn't really keep in touch, but, thankfully, with Facebook, you find everybody,” Chopp said.
Dippolito and the Wolves are planning a fundraiser for Devyn Science, who will be a senior at Yough High School, during a league game Saturday against the Canton Pitbulls. A portion of admission proceeds and all of the money from T-shirt sales will be donated to him during the game at McKeesport High School stadium.
Dippolito learned of the situation through a post on Chopp's Facebook page and decided the team could help. Dippolito coached the champion 14-and-under traveling softball team based in Herminie that Chopp played on in the early 1990s. He is now coach and president of the Wolves, who practice in Irwin and have a home field at Hempfield High School stadium. A scheduling conflict moved the game to McKeesport.
“We try to do some kind of benefit every game,” Dippolito said.
Doctors in March diagnosed Science with Hodgkin lymphoma, and he finished chemotherapy last week, Chopp said. Hodgkin, or Hodgkin's, lymphoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in teenagers ages 15 to 19, according to the American Cancer Society.
Science will start radiation treatments this month. Those should finish in July, Chopp said.
“He's doing great,” she said. “He's going to be fine. We were very positive from the beginning.”
The team is part of the Premier Amateur Football League and plays other teams in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia. Wolves players are between 19 and 32 years old and live in Allegheny, Fayette and Westmoreland counties, Dippolito said.
The Wolves and the Pitbulls both are 6-1 and score more than 30 points per game, so Dippolito said Saturday's contest should be a good one.
“I'm hoping to have at least 200 people there,” he said. “My goal is $2,000. Any little bit helps.”
Science, hopes to become a police officer after high school, will be honorary captain at the game and some of his classmates will be in attendance. He played football when he was younger and as a freshman at Yough, but now does basketball and track.
“He thinks it's amazing,” Chopp said. “He's very grateful. He's seen how good the world is.”