One Wish, 15 High-Fives, 15 Autographs, and Lots of Swag...And Yes, He Met Lebron James! - OhBoyMom

One Wish, 15 High-Fives, 15 Autographs, and Lots of Swag…And Yes, He Met Lebron James!

February 6, 2014 in Inspirational Stuff

NOTE: I did not post this sooner because I was waiting for Little Dude’s awesome photo with Lebron James. We received it the other day, but have been asked not to post it on social media. So, you’re just going to have to imagine it. All I can say is Lebron and Little Dude both had huge grins on their faces — best photo ever. :) 

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Little Dude’s Make-A-Wish started off in the best way possible: A ride to the airport in a stretch limousine. This certainly made the 5:30am pick-up time a lot more palatable. It was odd — but also great — having a trip planned out for us, including the limo pick-up, flights, seat assignments, rental car, and hotel.

Little Dude was thrilled when we arrived at our hotel and his name was up in lights on the screen by the elevator, along with the other “Wish” kids staying there. When we entered our room, there was a sign welcoming him, along with a variety of his favorite snacks. We had the rest of the day to relax, swim, and explore. The Florida weather was perfect. We had a view of the American Airlines arena from our room, and we all were so curious to see what would happen there at the Meet-and-Greet the next day.

Another early wake-up call and all the families met the “Wish” representative in the lobby at 7:30am. We walked over to the arena together and waited by the V.I.P. entrance. We were checked in family by family and brought into the Grey Goose Lounge, where the players usually hang out. The Miami Heat announcer, Eric Reid, greeted us and talked to us about the team, their impressive championship wins, and told us a little bit about the schedule for the day. He said there were some surprises ahead, so we were still kept wondering.

First on the agenda was watching the team practice. That alone was AWESOME. Usually, these practices are closed to the public and even to the employees. They made an exception that day and let us watch the first 45 minutes of their practice. All three of my dudes were sitting there in awe, almost not believing that they were watching their favorite NBA players — including Lebron James himself — practice only a few feet away. We could hear the players joking around with one another, but mostly they took their practice seriously, despite the fact that they had an audience of about 150 people.

From there, we received a tour of the facilities, including the weight room, media room, Culp room, and of course the locker room. Here is Little Dude’s foot compared to Dwayne Wade’s slides:

Dwadeshoe

Lunch was served to us in the Dewar’s Club, normally reserved for VIPs. Burnie, the team mascot  and the Heat Dancers were mingling with all of us. My two older boys seemed especially happy to pose for a photo with the dancers. I can’t imagine why…

After lunch, we were brought down to Championship Alley, where the players wait before entering the arena. They lined up the kids in a very precise order, though none of us knew why. Suddenly, we heard music playing from the arena, and the line started to move. When we got closer, we figured out what was going on. One by one, each of the Wish kids had their name announced by the Heat announcer and they ran out on to the court and high-fived all 15 Miami Heat players. They literally simulated a real game environment by having a few hundred volunteers in the stands clapping their hands to the music, the fire machines spitting out a giant flame after each name was called and projecting their name and face up on the jumbo-tron. It was unreal and fantastic at the same time. I almost broke down and cried. A mom standing in line with us was weeping. You’ll probably weep too — check out this brief snippet:

The 35 kids were then seated at one of five different stations on the court. Each child received a basketball and the players rotated to each of the stations, signing the balls, taking photos with the kids, and making small talk. The parents and siblings were not allowed on the court floor so that the Wish kids could receive full attention from the players. My other two dudes were a little bummed out about this, but we reminded them that this was Little Dude’s and the other kids’ wish, not theirs. We took some good photos from our vantage point, but there was a professional photographer who captured their glowing smiles the best.

The players handed out large bags of swag …each child received a Miami Heat jersey with their last name on the back. Norris Cole #30 point guard, saw Little Dude fumbling with his jersey and helped him put it over his head. The bag also had basketball sneakers, Beats earphones, several pairs of basketball socks, and many other items. It was a Heat fan’s early Christmas for sure. Little Dude was then taken “backstage” to pose with some other kids for a photo and apparently Dwayne Wade surprised them and appeared in the photo with them. The families were then invited to take a photo with their child behind the three championship trophies. We were given our tickets to the game the next night and toted his bag of swag back to the hotel.

The Saturday night game versus Cleveland was a great one to see live. Although it was close, the Heat players did not disappoint and won the game. Afterwards, we picked up a DVD of the previous day’s events along with a poster that featured Little Dude as the 16th player, with all the other 15 Heat players.

The final analysis? Little Dude said it was the best weekend of his life…can’t ask for more than that!!

Thank you to Make-A-Wish and the Miami Heat — you helped us all have an amazing few days and forget the past few difficult months…it was a weekend we will all cherish and remember forever. In case my synopsis wasn’t enough, click here to view a short video released by the Miami Heat about the event.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy February 6, 2014 at 10:05 am

Sounds like it was a wonderful experience for everyone!! Sometimes it sucks that something bad has to happen for people to experience something so cool, but I’m glad that Make a Wish is there and glad that you guys got to experience it!!

I know that when I was going through my treatments I had wished that there was something for my boys to help escape from the everyday and dealing with my illness. Thankfully there is and we had an opportunity to go away on vacation to escape for a week!

Continued thoughts and prayers to Little Dude in his fight!! Our family motto was “Keep on Fighting!” and I encourage Little Dude to do the same. Hugs to you, Big Dude and Middle Dude as well, everyone often forgets the caregivers and other family members and how this effects them.

Thanks for sharing!!

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Julie DeNeen February 6, 2014 at 10:40 am

WOW. Just wow. Amazing and so happy for your little dude!!!! That sounded incredible.
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Janine Huldie February 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I seriously was so happy to read this post and that video had me smiling right along with Little Dude. Seriously awesome experience and so glad The Miami Heat did these for your son and all the kids here, too :)
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marjorie weschler February 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

This was wonderful to see–I am so happy your family could have this experience. Little Dude keep fighting! My best wishes and thoughts are with your whole family

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Rhonda February 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm

That is so awesome! Can’t beat the best weekend of his life! It’s heartwarming that so many people work together to make such amazing things happen for great kids!
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ohboymom February 6, 2014 at 5:49 pm

I agree – Make A Wish is an amazing organization!

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Helen Rafferty February 6, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Wow – it’s been too long since I read a story that showed pro athletes being the heroes we so want them to be – made my day!

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ohboymom February 6, 2014 at 5:52 pm

All the players were class acts all the way…they clearly understand that it’s their responsibility to give back to the community. Thanks for reading!

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Kerri February 6, 2014 at 8:27 pm

Oh my, Emily. I am tearing up here. I am so happy for your little dude. That video was freaking priceless. His smile? That is what dreams are made of. I was thinking that the older dudes would be all hey thanks for taking us along. I am so glad that no matter what you are going through brothers will be brothers and give him grief for not getting a photo with the players!!! Congrats on an awesome weekend and special thanks to Make a Wish and the Miami Heat for making a little boy smile.
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ohboymom February 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

Yes, you are right, his brothers still act like his brothers, not treating him any differently through this, which I suppose is a good thing. Glad you enjoyed the video — it truly was a special day.

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Cathy Chester February 6, 2014 at 9:46 pm

What an amazing experience. You are THE BEST MOM!!!!!!

Hooray for you and the Little Dude.
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ohboymom February 7, 2014 at 9:54 am

Yes, it was truly a special weekend, one we will all remember forever.:)

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Kirsten Maxwell February 6, 2014 at 9:55 pm

What a great experience! Make A Wish is such an amazing organization. As a a fellow boy mom, I am looking forward to reading your future posts!

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ohboymom February 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

Likewise – looking forward to reading about your adventures with boys too!

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Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. February 7, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Yep, tears in my eyes. That sounds like a phenomenal experience, Emily. I’m so glad Make a Wish exists, and I love that they made it even more special than you imagined. Sad that you can’t share the picture, but I can totally imagine it in my mind! Thanks for sharing that video snippet with us! :)
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ohboymom February 7, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Stephanie, I just shared the pic with you via the Bloppy page…:)

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Kristi Campbell February 7, 2014 at 4:01 pm

I’m glad that your other commenters admitted tears, Emily because I can’t believe you didn’t cry – I totally did!!! (also I always assumed your name was pronounced Caaapo, with a long a – no?). Anyway, I’m SO glad that little dude had such an amazing weekend. It sounds like it was incredible for all of you and something to always be remembered. What a wonderful trip – from the point guard helping him to put on his jersey to the back stage, to the swag – and a win. So cool. I’m just bursting with happiness that it was “the best weekend of his life!!!”

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ohboymom February 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Yup, we’re Cappo with a short “a” though many think it’s Cay-po. And, I had a feeling you might get weepy at the video.:)

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Melanie Chisnall February 10, 2014 at 9:12 am

Wow! That’s something he’s never going to forget… how cool! Loved how they made such a special effort with the screens and everything. I can imagine how you wanted to cry… I wanted to cry just reading this. Lucky little dude… what a way to start the year! :)
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ohboymom February 10, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Yes, it was definitely a bright spot for our family!

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Tom February 20, 2014 at 1:30 am

Awesome – what a memorable experience!
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