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Nine-year-old Giana Cardonita was glad her brain tumor was removed. But what she really loved was being "adopted" by the Yale women's hockey team.

Giana Cardonita

In August 2010, 9-year-old Giana Cardonita of Guilford was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a tennis ball right in the middle of her brain. Michael DiLuna, MD, pediatric neurologist at Yale-New Haven Children's Hospital, and his team, performed a successful seven-hour surgery on Giana. After her surgery, Giana became his first "Bulldog Buddy."

As an undergraduate at Yale, Dr. DiLuna played football and began to envision a program that would meld his two loves – Yale sports and medicine. He formed Bulldog Buddies, where a Yale athletic team adopts a patient as a source of inspiration. The Yale women's ice hockey team adopted Giana for the 2010-2011 season. As an honorary member of their team, Giana has her own jersey, attends games and has even been taught to skate by the team.

Photo Gallery

Giana Cardonita and the Yale women's ice hockey team.

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