NBA All-Stars’ first visit to SickKids a slam dunk
By Emily de Medeiros
An uproar of excitement emerged among the children and families as the WNBA players and NBA legends entered Marnie’s Lounge. Strategy, game talk and competition were put on the sidelines as the basketball superstars spent some quality time with young patients and families by making crafts, playing games and just hanging out.
A few of the All-Stars in attendance were NBA Cares Ambassador and Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, NBA Legends Ron Harper and Brian Shaw, NBA Cares Ambassador Isaiah Austin, as well as Canadian-born WNBA Legend Tammy Sutton-Brown, who all scored major points with the kids.
Isaiah Austin and 16-year old Lucas were hanging out on the couch and chatting about video games and basketball. “Isaiah doesn’t like video games because he can’t make the players do exactly what he wants,” Lucas joked. The two became buddies and followed each other on Instagram and Snapchat. “This is the most important part of my All-Star weekend. Just being able to give back to the kids and spend a couple hours with them to see them smile,” said Austin.
A few weeks ago, Lucas reached a special milestone in his treatment and was happy to celebrate with the NBA All-Stars. Most importantly, he was excited to gain a new friend in Austin, who was inspired by Lucas’ strength. “It really touches my heart. These kids are amazingly strong and it brings tears to my eyes,” he said.
“Special events like these provide children and families in the hospital with the chance to unwind with a temporary distraction, and to make lasting, positive memories,” said Andrea Fretz, Child Life Specialist in Child and Family-Centred Care Programming at SickKids. “Connecting with the All-Stars in this way is such an exciting experience for our families, and we’d love to welcome the All-Stars back to SickKids in the future.”
Following the event in Marnie’s Lounge, the All-Stars made a surprise visit to patient rooms around the hospital; leaving nothing but smiles and happiness in their path.
“We are trying to lift their lives, but they are lifting our lives as well. Just to put a smile on their faces when they are going through difficult circumstances is extremely special," said Bob Lanier.
This visit was a part of the NBA Cares global social responsibility program. As the first NBA All-Star weekend held in Toronto, the NBA family will be working with hundreds of schools and community organizations to give back to the community.