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Volleyball Team Signs Teen with Chronic Illness

by Alyssa Speicher, Public Relations Writer

Payton Stephens of Lebanon, Ohio, was diagnosed at birth with a blood disorder that doctors cannot fully identify. Still, the 16-year-old’s perseverance and positive attitude throughout her life has led to a spot in Cedarville University’s women’s volleyball program. 

Cedarville University will officially welcome Stephens to the program during a special “Draft Day” ceremony Tuesday, April 4, at 5 p.m. in the Callan Athletic Center. The program is similar to a student-athlete’s “national letter of intent” day. 

The women’s volleyball team is partnering with Team IMPACT to make Stephens’ role with the Yellow Jackets a possibility. Similar to other organizations that attempt to make life easier for life-threatening illnesses, Team IMPACT improves the quality of life of youth with chronic illnesses by matching them with collegiate athletic teams.

Cedarville is excited to be a part of this unique opportunity to encourage Stephens. She will be part of the volleyball program for the next two years.

“Through relatives and teammates, we have been able to see the difference programs like Team IMPACT can make in the lives of these young children,” said volleyball head coach Doug Walters. “For us at Cedarville University, it also gives us another great opportunity to pour the love of Jesus into Payton and her family.”

She will have the opportunity to be a part of the team’s home matches: participating in pre-match devotions, sitting with the team during the match, getting introduced as a player and interacting with Cedarville’s student body.

“The team is super excited to welcome Payton to the program,” said Walters. “When they had the opportunity to meet her at practice, they instantly made a connection with her and welcomed her to campus.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 3,760 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 100 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit

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