WATCH: 11-year-old drafted to Rider women’s basketball team
Savanna Galasso had grown used to visiting the gym at Rider University for games and practices, but she had no idea that this time, the women's basketball team would be there to greet her and add her to the roster.
The 11-year-old, who's now dealing with her second round of a severe kidney disorder, was drafted by the team Wednesday night, receiving the superstar treatment and all the glitz and glamour that go along with a signing ceremony.
"I did not expect this at all," Galasso said after the event.
Her signing came along with a hat, a jersey with her last name and favorite number, 15, and a permanent spot near the bench for Lady Broncs games.
Galasso was paired with the team through the non-profit organization Team IMPACT, which seeks to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses.
When Galasso was just 7 years old, medical testing uncovered a kidney disorder that progressed rapidly into Stage V kidney failure. After undergoing dialysis for a year-and-a-half, Galasso's family learned a kidney was available for transplant. The procedure was a success, but soon after, the same disease came back to infect her new kidney.
Head coach Lynn Milligan said the team has formed a special bond with Galasso over the past month or so, and she's become an inspiration to her new teammates and coaches.
"She's a special young girl," Milligan said. "She's been through a lot, and for us to just welcome her into our family and brighten up her day...is the least that we can do."
Hoping to delay the need for dialysis once again, Galasso is taking medication as part of a trial study.
Galasso was joined at the event by her mother and two younger sisters.