Patient with Sickle Cell Meets, Greets and Receives Gifts
Jamal, 17, a patient with sickle cell disease, recently had a very special Friday night. A self-professed “huge” Chicago Bulls fan, Jamal was the La Rabida recipient of the Embrace-A-Bulls program. He and his sister Keshia, along with cousins Malachi, 11, and Savion, 10, arrived at the United Center early to watch the team warm up, in addition to receiving court-side seats to the game against the Detroit Pistons and VIP passes.
"The family had an amazing time - Jamal especially!" said Keshia. "Everyone was extremely kind. After a tour of the really cool memorabilia-filled corporate office, we were brought court side to watch the team warm up. To our extreme pleasure, we were able to meet several team members! As an additional completely unexpected surprise, we were also presented with a $1,000 Jewel-Osco gift card by D.J. Augustin! The awesome evening was capped off by a Bulls win!"
Jewel-Osco and the Bulls have a partnership now in its third year, to provide “families who have a member with a challenging medical condition an opportunity to experience a Chicago Bulls home game like VIPs. The program gives everyone in the family – the patient, children, parents, relatives or close friends – the chance to get some relief from their current circumstances, even for a moment, to enjoy special time together," according to Embrace-A-Bulls program staff.
The siblings lost their mother to cancer recently, and Keshia became Jamal's legal guardian, helping him transition from pediatric to adult medical care and cope with the many changes associated with the late teen years and managing a chronic condition.
"This evening was especially meaningful because it's the first time Jamal and I have spent time together away from our home. The third member of our household is our severely disabled uncle whose need for around-the-clock care, which means if one of us goes out, the other must stay home to care for him," said Keshia. "This evening also allowed us to reconnect as siblings as our transition to a guardian/dependent relationship has not been an easy one."
Thank you Chicago Bulls and Jewel-Osco for an "incredi-Bull" fun night for Jamal and his family! "Jamal was in such high spirits he came home and took his medicine without an argument!" Keshia said. "This truly was a once in a lifetime experience for us and I would like to express extreme gratitude to La Rabida for the opportunity. The hospital staff have on more than one occasion gone out of their way to support my brother and me as we struggle to manage his illness and grieve the loss of our parents."
Thanks again to the Chicago Bulls for making this once in a lifetime experience possible for the family.