PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team made their final home regular season game of the 2013-14 season a memorable one, partnering with Friends of Jaclyn Foundation to adopt six-year-old Kadeen Alansari as an honorary team member.
|Kadeen (center with basketball) and his family with the Harper men's basketball team prior to the game. (Doug Spiwak)|
Alansari and his family of Huntley, Ill. met the team prior to the start of the game and received a certificate, making him an honorary member of the Harper men's basketball team. Alansari, who suffers from a health condition known as Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma, began his evening by meeting the team and taking a team photo along with his family.
He was then introduced in the starting lineup as the honorary sixth player for the Hawks prior to tip. The team put him in the center of the huddle prior to the game where Kadeen gave the team a jolt of energy. He cheered on the team from the bench, where he met a new friend, redshirt freshman Jonathan Pratscher.
"Jonathan's 7-foot stature became even taller in my eyes," said Director of Athletics Doug Spiwak. "When I saw the student-athlete reach out to befriend his new teammate, I was reassured that our program attracts individuals with good character."
The Hawks are currently ranked third in the region, which would give them a home game for the quarterfinals on Wednesday, February 26.
"We will be looking for Kadeen to come back to Harper and cheer his team on," Spiwak said.
Kadeen's mother Brenda Alansari, who attended Harper, said that Kadeen had a great time and felt special and "he keeps asking when the next game is."
Friends of Jaclyn is a non-profit organization that states their mission as,"Our mission is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling pediatric brain tumors and to raise awareness about this insidious disease." They have been featured twice on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Click here to view those videos.
Alansari's father Muhannad also attended Harper College from 1999 to 2000 and ran cross country and track and field for the Hawks.
"He seems like he really enjoyed it," he said. "He's shy until he opens up, and then you can't really get him to stop talking."