Sahrs are the Heart of the Team
By Bobby Parker
September 11, 2013
Standing 3-feet, 4-inches, Johnah Sahrs is both the shortest and youngest player in Bradley basketball history. The five year old and his nine-year-old brother, Jarret, are the two newest members of the 2013-14 Bradley basketball team.
While sports can often provide a break from the harsh realities of life, the fact that Johnah started kindergarten at Dunlap Grade School this year is a tribute to the fighting spirit that also drives athletes to compete at the highest levels. Nearly two years ago, Johnah was diagnosed with Stage 4 high-risk neuroblastoma, a type of cancer that begins in the adrenal glands and often is found in young children.
For the past eighteen months, he has endured surgery to remove a baseball-sized tumor, stem-cell transplants and six rounds of chemotherapy. All the while, Johnah’s brother, Jarret, has been an intimate witness to his brother’s battle against the life-threatening illness. Team IMPACT is a not-for-profit agency with a mission to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses by establishing and expanding vibrant team-based support networks.
On Sept. 6, Johnah and Jarret made an “official visit” to the Renaissance Coliseum, where four members of the men’s basketball team – guards Mason Alwan ’14, Anthony Fields ’16, and Jordan Swopshire ’17 and center Jordan Prosser ’14 — gave the brothers a tour of the facility.
The two budding basketball players then met with third-year head coach Geno Ford on Mitchell “J.J.” Anderson Court in the Basketball Performance Center to review the expectations of a Bradley Brave — being a good teammate, following the rules, completing their homework and cheering for the Braves. In the presence of their new teammates, Johnah and Jarret signed Letters of Intent to become members of the 2013-14 Bradley Men’s Basketball Team.
The brothers will share a locker in the Renaissance Coliseum locker room, and they will be listed on the team’s official roster throughout the year: Johnah was assigned uniform number 1; Jarret is number 32. While they will interact with the entire team as often as their schedules will allow, Alwan, Fields, Prosser and Swopshire will serve as their official team mentors.
“It was an easy thing to do, and it feels like we’re really helping the kids,” Ford said in an interview with ESPNChicago.com reporter Scott Powers. “I certainly hope we are, and the kids seem to have a great time with our players. That being said, it has been at a very minimum just as good for our players as it has been for them. We’ve probably got the better end of the deal. Johnah has undergone some incredible adversities. I think it puts a lot of things in perspective for our players and coaches about what adversity can mean.”
For updates on Johnah’s battle against cancer, the family has created a Facebook page entitled Johnah’s Journey The Neuroblastoma Ninja’s Road to Recovery. After a brief hospital visit Sept. 8 related to a fever, Johnah was off to Memphis Sept. 10 for post-treatment scans to determine the results of his eighteen months of treatment. Regardless of the results, the Sahrs family has a growing group of supporters who are cheering them on, headlined by the Bradley basketball team.