Eight-year-old heart patient joins UB women’s gymnastics team

The Purple Knights welcome Amber Lehrman. “She has a support system here,” says one UB student-athlete
Anber Lehrman signs a letter of intent to become an honorary member of the University of Bridgeport women's gymnastics team on December 13, 2018.

An eight-year-old whose battle with life-threatening cardiovascular disease has not diminished the giant size of her courageous heart has joined the University of Bridgeport women's gymnastics program.

Amber Lehrman of Stratford, CT, was welcomed as an honorary member at joyous draft day ceremony that was held in the University’s Wheeler Recreation Center on December 13, 2018.

Amber signed her letter of intent to join the University of Bridgeport women’s gymnastics program as team members welcomed her with strands of purple beads, a team jersey, her own locker, and plenty of hugs.

As the Purple Knights’ newest team member, Amber will attend practices, gymnastics meets, and other team events.

"We are delighted to have Amber join our program!” said Head Coach Byron Knox. “She will be a key member of the Purple Knights this season as we progress toward our many team goals during the 2019 campaign, and we sincerely hope she enjoys her time with us."

The team and Amber met at the start of the fall semester.

“So far it’s been amazing! She loves coming here and we love seeing her,” said UB student-athlete Julianna Roland, a freshman. “We gave Amber her own locker. It’s a reminder that this is what it’s all about. We want her to know that she has a support system here and that this is a comfortable, safe, friendly place to have a good time. We want Amber to feel really included.”

The special signing ceremony was arranged by Team IMPACT, a national nonprofit that has connected nearly 1,600 children facing serious or chronic illnesses with more than 500 college athletic teams in 49 states since 2011. As children join an athletic team, student-athletes become part of a child's support team. The relationship, say Team Impact organizers, gives children strength, camaraderie, and support while the student-athletes experience lessons about courage, resiliency, and perspective about life.

The University of Bridgeport women’s gymnastics team has won the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships six consecutive times and the ECAC Division II Conference Championship ten consecutive times, a conference record.

Team IMPACT has more than 1,000 teams waiting to be matched with children, ages 5-16, who have been diagnosed with a serious or chronic illness and who could benefit from becoming a member of the team. For more information, visit www.goteamimpact.org.


Media contact: Chuck Sadowski, (203) 576-4726, csadowsk@bridgeport.edu

Pictured: Amber Lehrman, accompanied by her mother Melody Lehrman, signed a letter of intent to join the University of Bridgeport women’s gymnastics program as an honorary member on December 13, 2018.