Making an IMPACT: Elon athletes involved with inspiring initiative for children

Members of the Elon women's lacrosse and men's golf teams are supporting Team IMPACT, an organization that helps children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses.

After learning about Team IMPACT through her older sister, Elon University women’s lacrosse player Kailey McKenna ’25 wanted to be a part of it.

Team IMPACT is an organization that helps children facing life-threatening and chronic illnesses. It provides a safe and supportive environment for the child and their family and gives them a chance to connect with a college sports team and local campus communities.

Kailey McKenna ’25, a member of the women’s lacrosse team

The more she heard about the great work Team IMPACT is doing with college athletics, McKenna wanted to elevate Elon’s involvement with the organization.

This past summer, McKenna joined Team IMPACT’s fellowship program, a role in which she spreads awareness, organizes games and gets teams to sign up and apply to be matched with a kid. As part of the program, she was also able to go to Boston with other student-athlete fellows.

“They’re just a really great organization,” McKenna said. “It’s good to be a part of it.”

As a Team IMPACT fellow, McKenna is also assigned tasks that she fulfills each month. In October, McKenna organized a virtual 5K for the Elon women’s lacrosse team to raise money for Team IMPACT, in addition to the main goal of raising awareness for the organization.

“Throughout the year, it’s always just how can I get more teams involved,” McKenna said. “Because once more teams get involved down here, it’s easier to coordinate Team IMPACT events.”

As she continues to raise awareness for the organization on-campus, McKenna recently matched Ridge Riley of Burlington with Elon’s men’s golf team.

“My Team IMPACT representative reached out to me and said there is a kid in Burlington that’s really interested in men’s golf, do you think they would be interested?” McKenna said. “I reached out to the team, and they were totally on board, applied and got started right away with him this fall. They’ve been awesome with him.”

As a Team IMPACT fellow, McKenna reached out to the men’s golf team to try to make a match. That’s where Matthew Doyle came into play. Doyle, a junior on the men’s golf team, became McKenna’s point of contact and the person who helped her match Riley with the team.

“She reached out to me to see if our team would be open to that,” Doyle said. “I thought it was a great idea. I brought it up to my coach and he agreed with me that it would be great for everyone.”

Doyle had not heard of Team IMPACT before McKenna reached out, but was thrilled to be able to help out when he learned about the organization.

“It’s just great, everything that they do,” Doyle said. “All of these kids are just so happy to be there. It feels good to help out.”

Doyle said the men’s golf team loves having Riley around the team and that it has been a great experience for everyone involved. At Elon’s home tournament in October, Riley was an honorary member of the Phoenix, as he and his family were on site for both days. After the tournament, Riley was presented a flag with signatures from every player in the field who competed and partook in Elon’s trophy photos after winning the event.

While men’s golf is currently the only team matched with a Team IMPACT kid, Doyle hopes other teams are able to get matched with with a kid at some point.

“I think every team at Elon should do it,” Doyle said. “It just creates such a good environment.”

While the women’s lacrosse team is still waiting to be matched with a kid, McKenna is hopeful to get every team at Elon matched with someone.

“That’s the goal, that I would match every team down here before I leave within the next year and a half,” McKenna said. “It’s kind of a big goal, but it would be great to do.”

McKenna said since matching men’s golf with Riley, the women’s track and field team has put in an application to be matched with a kid, in addition to lacrosse currently going through the process.

“I would love it if our team got a match just because we’ve been in the application waiting process for a while,” McKenna said. “I would be really excited if [track] got a match this year too.”

‘Rising Phoenix’ is a new student-led initiative to cover Elon Athletics. Through innovative content creation and storytelling, Elon University students will have the opportunity to highlight the moments, people and events that make an impact, leveraging the athletic department’s various web and social media platforms for distribution. Follow Rising Phoenix on Twitter and Instagram. Interested in joining this initiative as a content creator (video, graphics, writing, storytelling, or more)? Contact Jacob Kisamore at