While at a Bulls preseason game earlier this year with my teammates, I had the pleasure of being introduced to Wade’s World Foundation. This organization provides support to community-based organizations that promote education, health, and social skills for children in at-risk situations. I didn’t know much about the program at the time, but when my team leader from By The Hand Club For Kids, gave me an application for the foundation, I knew I had to take advantage of the opportunity.
I found out that I would be applying along with thousands of other kids throughout Chicago. When it came time to write the essay I was nervous that my story was going to be shared with others. As a kid growing up in Cabrini-Green with a single mother and two sisters, we had hard times. I worked with Ms. Sparkle to get my thoughts down on paper and write my essay. I submitted the application and just had to wait.
A month later, on Wednesday, November 2nd, the Cubs won the World Series. I had planned to go to the Cubs celebration parade that Friday, but the next day Ms. Sparkle called and told me that I would not be able to attend. I was required to attend a special event, the Bulls vs. Knicks game at the United Center. She told me I could bring one special person and that was the only detail I was given, but I had my suspicions… it was the #SpotlightOn event.
I told my mom I wanted to take her with me and she immediately started to cry. We arrived at the game and were treated like VIPs. We were escorted to the court, where we told to wait in the tunnel for further instructions. As the team ran out to start the game, I got to take part in the team huddle, which was the experience of a lifetime…they were all so tall! Once the game began, Dwayne Wade himself came over to say hello and introduce me to the Bulls players.
At half time, the event coordinator told me to get ready. I wasn’t sure what I was ready for but I quickly found out when I walked to the center of the court and all of the lights went out. The spotlight was on me! There was a lot that followed that event that has inspired me to do better for myself and my community.
#SpotlightOn is a program created to put an end to gun violence in Chicago. As members, we work together in different communities throughout the city to inspire kids to make better choices for themselves. I have had the chance to become a role model for kids all over the city while attending events in elementary schools and community programs. All while getting to meet and spend time with my own role models. I will be forever blessed to have this opportunity and am thankful to God and Dwayne Wade for this experience.
Wish It! Dream It! Do It!