PITTSBURG — The fourth quarter comeback by the girls’ basketball team at Pittsburg State University’s John Lance Arena Saturday was special, what followed, even better.
Following the victory, the lights were lowered and a red carpet rolled out for 7-year-old Lily, a Wichita native suffering from a congenital heart condition.
Lily is being sponsored by the university’s student-based Make-A-Wish committee, who raised money to send Lily and her family to New York City where she will meet her favorite Broadway actor, Alfie Boe.
Lily was walked down the carpet by Dylan Donley, a PSU athlete and chair for the university’s committee.
Both Donley and Lily were dressed for the red carpet – Lily even adorned her outfit with a tiara.
Lily knew she was going to New York City to meet the Broadway actor, but PSU athletes had other surprises. Lily discovered she would be visiting the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and the American Museum of Natural History.
Lily was given her dress, PSU apparel and a journal by athletes as well. She later said the journal was her second favorite thing. The first, a message from Boe.
“Hey Lily, I am excited to meet you at the beginning of February,” Boe said in the message.
In a media conference afterward, Lily said she was introduced to Broadway by her grandma.
Lily will travel to New York City next Wednesday with her sister, Sophie, and parents, Sheldon and Stephanie.
“It was amazing,” Stephanie said about the red carpet treatment. “I cried.”
PSU’s Make-A-Wish committee raised $7,500 last year through events such as the Gorillas Got Talent contest, a dodgeball tournament and a daycare event where children played with athletes.
The $7,500 was the most raised by any Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association school. It also allowed PSU to sponsor their first child, Lily.
Heidi Johnson advises the student athlete advisory committee, which spearheads the university’s Make-A-Wish committee.
“It’s just something that is important for everyone’s life,” Johnson said. “To be able to give back to somebody else, to remember that there is more to life than these games we play.”
Kansas Make-A-Wish foundation chose PSU to be Lily’s sponsor.
“Thankfully,” her escort, Donley said. “Because she’s amazing.”
— Michael Stavola is a staff writer at The Morning Sun. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MichaelStavola1.