Mike Krzyzeweski’s disability connection is more than a game, more than a photo op, more than a heartwarming story. I just heard a previously untold story about the compassion Duke’s head basketball coach has for people in the special needs and disability community and am eager to share it with Different Dream readers. You may want to get a tissue before reading the rest of this post.
The unfolding of the story began when a Facebook friend who shared a story about Coach Krzyzewski with me and a mutual friend who raised four kids with special needs to adulthood. Maybe you’ve seen the story, which has been floating around Facebook since the Tales of an Educated Debutante Facebook page first shared it in December of 2017. It describes the relationship between the coach and Steve Mitchell, a Duke fan. All Steve wanted for Christmas in 1980 was a ticket to a Duke basketball game.
You can read about how Steve got his wish on Facebook, so rather than retell it here, I’d like to tell another story about Mike Krzyzewski’s disability connection. (If you don’t have a tissue yet, now is a good time to get one.)
Remember the friend mentioned earlier, the one who raised four kids with special needs to adulthood? Well, she and her husbands are parents to five children, but their oldest child died of a rare brain cancer when he was just a few years old. Their little boy received treatment at Duke University Hospital, and that’s where her encounter with Krzyzewski took place. Here’s her story in her own words.
Coach K is a good man. In 1996 I spent many months in Duke Medical Center with my dying son. Coach K showed up in my room one day and sat down and talked to me like an old friend. He came to visit me each time the team visited the Pediatric Cancer floor. The Duke basketball coache’s office sent up a fridge to my sons room just so I could get decent food and keep it in my room. I will always cheer for Duke!
I’m not a sports fan. I’m not a basketball fan. I never watch March Madness. But from here on out, I am a Mike Krzyzewski fan because Mike Krzyzewski’s disability connection is more than a game. His connection is not a photo op to him. It’s not something he talks about publicly. His connection comes from using his position to bring joy and show compassion to people he meets. Like my friend, from here on out, I will always cheer for Coach Krzyzewski’s team.
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