Every 34 minutes, a wish is granted to a child by the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America. In Mississippi alone, 165 children are diagnosed with a new terminal illness each year. Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit organization with a mission to grant a wish to every eligible child.
On Jan. 16, 2020, MC students and faculty gathered together in the A.E. Wood Coliseum to spectate a Choctaw men’s basketball game against the Christian Brothers Buccaneers. A surprise awaited a special member of the crowd.
Kaleb is ten years old and has Pulmonary Disease. He attended the game with his family as a representative of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Mississippi. He was excited to watch the game after traveling from his hometown of Coffeeville, Miss., but little did he know the surprise that was in store for him later on. Kaleb was named honorary team captain of the night as he excitedly ran through the alley of basketball players to give the captain a high five. The game got started as more students flooded into the building, and the energy in the building rose.
After an intense first half between MC and Christian Brothers, the halftime festivities began. Excited cheers rose from the large crowd of MC students as Kaleb walked to the center of the court with his mom and dad joining him on either side. The announcer introduced Kaleb as he faced the scorer’s table. He turned around to face the crowd and his face lit up. Mississippi College students came together standing and cheering, scattering the stands with signs showing their support for the little guy. His name was written across the Coliseum as a colorful splash on white posters. A truly unforgettable moment ensued as Kaleb watched in wonder. The MC men’s basketball team came on the large screen.
The video showed number 21, Jon Harding, surrounded by the rest of the basketball team sharing their support of Make-A-Wish and Kaleb. Harding excitedly stated that they have a surprise for Kaleb as he held up a secret envelope holding his wish reveal. The coliseum was silent as everyone waited for the grand reveal of Kaleb’s wish. Harding pulled out the piece of paper and the entire team started jumping with excitement. They turned the paper around, and the gym erupted with cheers as Steph Curry’s name was written across the paper in bold lettering. Steph Curry is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association.
The floor flooded with students to celebrate this wish come true. The crowd gathered around Kaleb and his father placed him on his shoulders. Shining a big smile, Kaleb gave students high fives. Kaleb’s name rang in a chant through the building. After a few group photos, the crowd wound down and made their way back to the stands. Kaleb went back to the sidelines still on his father’s shoulders and holding his mother’s hand. Once on the sidelines with his feet on the ground, he took a few more photos with some students and cheerleaders. Dr. Thompson came over to congratulate Kaleb and take an iconic Dr. Thompson selfie. The little basketball fan threw in a dab and another big smile. Mississippi College came together to create an unforgettable night. The second half was filled with adrenaline as the Choctaws played hard for a win. The Choctaws closed the game by capturing winning points in the last thirty seconds of the game ending with 78-73 win.
“Kaleb hopes to be a basketball star when he grows up, just like his favorite player Steph Curry,” says Make-A-Wish Media Relations Intern Kathryn Gandy.
On Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020, Kaleb’s wish was granted as he flew with his family to Los Angeles and met his hero Steph Curry.