PALATINE, Ill. – The Harper College men's basketball team partnered with Friends of Jaclyn Foundation once again to welcome seven-year-old Kadeen Alansari as an honorary team member for the second straight year.
|Kadeen (center with basketball) and his family with the Harper men's basketball team prior to the game. (Doug Spiwak)|
Kadeen and his family of Huntley, Ill. met the team prior to the start of the Wednesday, Feb. 4 game against Triton College and took a photo with head coach Justin Welke, his staff, and Hawks players before Harper took the court.
After warmups, he was introduced in the starting lineup as the honorary sixth starter for Harper. Kadeen then got in the middle of the huddle and fired up the team prior to tipoff. Finally, he was taken to center court by freshman Davion Benton (Chicago, Ill. /Alcott College Prep), where he did a jump ball against Triton 6-foot-9 center Donovan Smith (which he won).
Kadeen spent the rest of the game cheering the team on the bench and inspiring the Harper men's team.
"He meant the world to me. He had joy and energy, and he just inspired me," said freshman point guard Marcus Gatlin (Chicago, Ill./Curie), who scored a career-best 16 points in the game. "I broke down. Some people take life for granted, and he's not doing that."
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.
Kadeen suffers from a health condition known as Juvenile Pilocytic Astrocytoma. Kadeen's father Muhannad also attended Harper College from 1999 to 2000 and ran cross country and track and field for the Hawks. His mother attended Harper as well.
"Having Kadeen at our game and close to us throughout the night was so special because it allowed us to truly embody a phrase that our team uses daily: We before Me. We were able to touch the life of someone in our community and realize that serving others is what brings you true joy in life," Welke said. "I was very proud of how our guys embraced Kadeen and made his night special, and in the end, Kadeen made all of us feel special, too."