UCLA's Jim Mora has been in the coaching profession for more than 30 years. In his time, he's seen more than a few upsets, victories against seemingly insurmountable odds. But no battle he's witnessed between the lines comes close to the one little Avery Huffman is in the midst of.
The 6-year-old was recently diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Plontine Glioma, an inoperable, irremovable and cancerous brain tumor. It's the same condition that took the life of former college basketball player Lauren Hill. The mortality rate for those afflicted with DIPG is 100 percent. However, that hasn't stopped the Huffman family from holding out hope. It also hasn't stopped Mora from using whatever pull he might have as the Bruins coach to aid their family in raising money for expensive radiation treatment, the only earthly hope to prolong Avery's life.
Mora, along with UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero and IMG College, are providing some pretty sweet incentive packages for Bruins fans who are willing to donate to money to assist Avery's family in offsetting the cost of her treatment.
For example, fans willing to donate $1,500 will receive the "coach's pass," affording them the opportunity to spend two days and one night with the team during fall camp and to get on the field during practice, participate in drills, eat meals with the team and attend meetings. Those who fork over $1,200 toward the cause get a pair of tickets to a special tailgating experience, a chance to mingle with former players, free parking at the Rose Bowl and a two seats on or near the 50-yard line.
In a touching letter, originally posted to his Twitter page, Avery's father, Brandon, said the life expectancy for children with DIPG ranges from nine months, without treatment, to two years, with radiation. The first stage of radiation is a grueling five-day a week, six-week process.
"Less than two weeks ago, Avery was finishing kindergarten, a very good year for her in school where she continued to learn and grow as a young lady. She was thrilled for first grade, where she would finally get to join her brother at school all-day, a big deal for her.
Our prayer and hope now is that she gets to complete first grade, and second grade and on and on and on.
But we also know that history isn’t on our side.
Yet we do know that God is on our side."