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 6-year-old Kadeen Alansari as an honorary team member.
Kadeen, whose parents are both Harper alumni, suffers from a rare childhood brain tumor known as juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. He and his family made the trip to Palatine from their Huntley home earlier this month. He met the team prior to tipoff, had his picture taken with the players and received a certificate.
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Kadeen was then introduced in the starting lineup as the honorary sixth player for the Hawks. The team put him in the center of the huddle where Kadeen gave his new teammates a jolt of energy. He cheered them on from the bench and met a new friend in redshirt freshman Jonathan Pratscher.
"Jonathan's 7-foot stature became even taller in my eyes," director of Athletics Doug Spiwak said. "When I saw the student-athlete reach out to befriend his new teammate, I was reassured that our program attracts individuals with good character."
Brenda Alansari said her son had a great time and was made to feel special.
"He keeps asking when the next game is," Brenda Alansari said.
Friends of Jaclyn is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for children and their families who are battling pediatric brain tumors. The group, which also raises awareness about the disease, has been featured twice on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."
Kadeen's father, Muhannad Alansari, 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."
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