Basketball team honors player suffering from Rett Syndrome

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BYRON, Mich. (WJRT) -- From T-shirts to ribbons and socks, one middle school gym in Michigan was a sea of purple, in honor of number 25.

"It's truly amazing just to be able to see my kid out on the floor. Regardless if she makes a basket or not, it's about being with her friends, being with her community and fighting Rett Syndrome," Misty Thomas said.

Her daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome when she was 7 after a severe seizure. The disorder primarily affects girls, and can lead to problems with walking, speaking, eating and breathing.

"Abigail is a little bit different, as she can walk and talk and feed herself and use her hands," Thomas explained.

And that makes it possible for Abby to do what she loves: play basketball at Byron Middle School.

Monday night, she got the first basket.

"She is awesome," teammate Sarah Marvin said. "She's so important. She just ties in our team dynamic and fits in very well. And, we just all get along so well."

Abby played with the girls in 5th & 6th grades. She couldn't play in 7th because she switched schools for her special needs. But this year, the coach made an exception.

"We have never lost a game with Abby on the bench," Coach Theresa Marvin said.

This team has actually been undefeated since 4th grade. But, Abby's not only a good luck charm, she's a positive teammate.

"We could be getting talked to by coach for practice, like when we got in trouble and she could say something and just completely flip flop the mood. We go from serious, getting yelled at, to just all of us - even coach - just bawling our eyes out laughing," Marvin said.

It's a relationship that makes Abby's mom proud to live in Byron.

"I couldn't ask for a better role model for her to look up to. And, the fact that they want a special needs child on their team, really speaks a lot for them," Misty said.

Monday's fundraiser brought in almost $900 for Rett Syndrome research. Abby's mom said tests have been able to reverse the disorder in mice, so she's hoping to see a reversal in Abby's lifetime.

And yes, the girls won again Monday night.

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