We met fifteen-year-old Juan, his mother Yanise and his younger sister Naliah at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia in the summer of 2022. Juan had been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, a diagnosis that no boy or his mother and family should ever have to face. When we privately commended Yanise for her strength and focus as she escorted Juan for treatment, she explained that she wasn’t the strong one; Juan was. She said she had been a ‘basket case’ when the ordeal began and until Juan calmed her down. He was the one who kept everyone calm, she said, as he dealt with headaches, seizures and trips to the hospital. Juan’s demeanor under the circumstances belied his youth. He provided hope where there was very little. Yanise followed his lead, prayed and tried not to think about the inevitable outcome.
In our conversation with Yanise, we learned that Juan “loves basketball”, but he had never been to a live NBA game. We told Yanise that we had access to two tickets to the 76ers game against the Warriors, his two favorite teams, although not in that order, and we would be happy to give them to Juan if he was well enough to attend the game.
As the months leading up to the game went by, we shared the plan with some of our followers and one, a retired doctor in New York State who wishes to remain anonymous, wanted to help. He generously offered a donation to the cause, but also began to brainstorm ideas about how to make the day even more memorable for Juan and Yanise. Others followed suit and as we contacted vendors, several committed to helping too and a great plan for an amazing night came together.
On December 16th, a professional driver picked up Juan and his mom at their home, drove them to the Wells Fargo Center, where they dined at Adrian, the new restaurant by Chef Steven Starr on the Club Level, before watching the game from prime seats, wearing their team jerseys. The 76ers won the game, and afterwards Juan was invited to meet Joel Embiid, James Harden, Coach Doc Rivers and the rest of the 76ers players. He said that they were now his new favorite team.
We want to give a shout out to Adrian Restaurant at the Wells Fargo Center and Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, Dick’s Sporting Goods of Moorestown, NJ and Private Trans, LLC of Beverly, NJ for their generosity and compassion in helping make a wish come true with an unforgettable night of joy. This is the first time the MPF has done a wish-granting project within our communities and the response from donors and the recipients has been inspirational to us. If we find an opportunity to do something similar in the future, we will not hesitate to give it our all.