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Toms River youngster battling disease honored by New Jersey Devils

TOMS RIVER – Reilly Hoagland is an 11-year-old boy who loves hockey.

He has been an avid participant in sports since he was 4. One thing people may not notice about Reilly is his daily battle with cystic fibrosis.

According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, cystic fibrosis is a progressive genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.

The disease has not stopped Reilly from playing soccer, lacrosse, basketball, flag football and hockey. He also surfs and runs in a marathon each year.

“He is always on the go. He is not one to sit and let the grass grow under him,” Reilly’s mom, Laurie Hoagland, said.

She said the family has always been diligent with Reilly’s treatments to make certain he stays as healthy as he can.

“Sports are a big part of staying healthy. Just being active and moving around is huge for people with cystic fibrosis,” Hoagland said.

On Dec. 29, Reilly was honored by the New Jersey Devils, his favorite hockey team. While at the game, he went for a ride on the Zamboni, visited the pre-game high five tunnel, spent time with the Devils’ mascot and, after the game, met one of his favorite players, Nico Hischier.

The Devils made the night a success with a 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes at the Prudential Center, Newark.

“It was nerve-wracking at first. It was amazing to meet the team. I love hockey because it is a challenging sport and it also keeps me fit,” Reilly said. “I am honored to have people behind me. I’m happy they got the opportunity to pick someone and I was the one who got picked.”

“We kept it a surprise for him. He knew he was sitting in a suite and knew he would meet some people because he heard me talking to somebody about it. Everything else that happened that night was a complete surprise for him. I could not wait to see it because I knew he was super-excited,” Laurie Hoagland said.

When Reilly was 5, his family created Reilly’s Rock Stars, a team and an organization that participates in special events to help find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis.

The Cystic Fibrosis Center at RWJBarnabas Health’s Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, helped the Hoagland family as they navigated the disease with Reilly.

“It has been amazing to watch Reilly be able to thrive. He was not diagnosed until he was 4 and by then he was pretty sick. It took a year after his diagnosis with medications and treatments before we started seeing the good health he is in today. It is a great thing and we do not take it for granted. We have seen families that deal with a lot more than we do,” his mom said.

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