DELHI TOWNSHIP, Ohio -- Tysen is only four years old. But he understands the concept of team, and he understands football.
So he knew what it meant when the Mount St. Joseph football team made him one of their own.
"The next night we were saying our prayers, and he wanted to pray for his new friends," his mother, Jody Clyde, said. "He said, 'I'm a football player now.' "
Tysen suffers from neurofibromatosis, or NF. NF causes tumors to grow throughout the body and can lead to blindness, bone abnormalities, cancer, deafness and learning disabilities.
Jody reached out to a group called Friends of Jacyln Foundation, which hooked her up with the Mount. In 2004, 9-year-old Jaclyn Murphy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Jaclyn connected with a women’s college lacrosse team at Northwestern University and became an honorary member. The foundation now does the same thing for other children – more than 700 times so far.
"I submitted my story," Jody said. "It came together very fast."
The people at Friends of Jaclyn asked if Jody was familiar with the Mount. Her response: Are we ever!
"It was a match made in heaven," Jody said. "We knew about Lauren Hill."
The late Mount St. Joe basketball player's fight with brain cancer became a national story and inspired millions.
Mount St. Joe coach Rod Huber jumped on the chance to be involved.
"This is what we do," Huber said. "Mount St. Joe is run by the Sisters of Charity. This is our mission. We try to do two or three things like this every year. We raised $1,300 to buy shoes for kids a few weeks ago. We’re doing a pink ribbon thing in a couple of weeks for Breast Cancer Awareness Month."
Huber said meeting Tysen had a profound effect on his players.
"They're 19-, 20-year-old dudes," Huber said. "They think they're invincible. This brought them to their knees. He's such a cool little kid."
Jody said the players could not have been more generous.
"The credit goes to them," she said. "They lined up to have selfies taken with Tysen."
Jody set it all up so her older son, 10-year-old Dylan, could also be a part of it.
"This is for siblings, too," she said. "We kept it as a surprise to Tysen. But it was great that Dylan could be part of it. Tysen knows sports because of Dylan. He plays football, basketball and baseball."
So Tysen didn’t know exactly what was happening on the trip from Colerain Township to the Mount in Delhi Township. When he got there, he was the star for the day. He signed a letter-of-intent, and was given his own helmet and locker.
Then the team gathered around Tysen for a photo, the tiny boy practically swallowed up by the big players.
Everyone was smiling. It was a sweet moment for a young boy who had been dealt a sour hand.
"It was a pretty cool moment," Huber said.
Jody says it was more than that.
"It was a pretty amazing day," she said.