VALDOSTA, Ga. –A teen with a life-threatening illness has his wish to meet Coach Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels granted through Kids Wish Network.
When Zachary was 8-years-old, he was constantly complaining of horrible headaches. He went for a CT scan, and the results showed a brain tumor. A portion of the growth was removed, and was misdiagnosed as non-cancerous. No chemotherapy or radiation was ordered. After five more years, his headaches worsened, and Zachary began to see “flashing lights.” He received another scan, which showed that the tumor had grown, and it was diagnosed as cancer. After a surgery to remove the tumor, doctors feel that they have removed all of the cancer from his brain, but the tumor and surgeries have affected his vision.
After being referred to national children’s charity Kids Wish Network by a friend, Zachary was asked by his Wish Coordinator, Jill, what his wish was; he said he wanted to meet the coach of his all-time favorite basketball team, the North Carolina Tar Heels. Armed with the knowledge of Zach’s only wish and a phone, Jill began calling around to organize the perfect wish trip for the basketball-loving teen.
When it came time for Zachary to get on a plane to North Carolina, Jill had arranged dinners, accommodations, a visit to the Carolina Basketball Museum and, of course, a meet and greet with Coach Williams before having Zach attend a Tar Heels game.
“It was all great. She [Jill] did an amazing job.”
Everything was made special for the teen who has been a Tar Heels fan from “day one”; one of the restaurants, the Kanki Japanese House of Steaks, even had a special autographed Tar Heels jersey and basketball for Zach and presented them to him on his arrival!
Though Zach thoroughly enjoyed every experience on his wish trip, his favorite parts were meeting with Coach Williams and attending the game on Saturday.
“It was great,” said Zach. “I was a little nervous at first, but he [Coach Williams] was just a normal guy. He was nice.”
It was right before the game when Zach met the Tar Heels’ Coach Roy Williams, who signed autographs for Zach and posed for pictures. He was surprised and honored when Zach presented him with an exclusive ESPN hat.
During the game, Zach had a blast. “It was a real blow out,” he said.
Now that he’s back home in Georgia, Zach is still focusing on basketball. In fact, he hopes to coach basketball for boys later on.
Kids Wish Network would like to thank the following for helping to make Zach’s wish extra special: North Carolina Tar Heels, Kanki Japanese House of Steaks, 411 West Italian Café, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, The Carolina Inn and Polo Ralph Lauren.