Joseph is 11 years old from Stony Brook, N.Y. and has Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He and his twin brother Anthony know an immeasurable amount of basketball facts. They are huge fans of the NBA; particularly the New York Knicks.
When Joseph found out that Make-A-Wish® Suffolk County would grant his one true wish, he wanted something he could enjoy for many years, and also something he and Anthony could enjoy together. He wished to have his own basketball court built in his backyard.
When Make-A-Wish Suffolk County Board member Gary Duff of Gary Duff Designs heard of Joseph’s wish, he decided to build and donate the court himself. To make Joseph’s wish extra special, we came up with a multitude of enhancements. We heard that the National Office had a donor who was looking for a wish child to take to the NBA draft. The draft happened to fall the day before Joseph’s wish reveal. We told Joseph we had a surprise for him, then went to his house where Darren Weiner, donor of the draft tickets, had a Skype chat with Joseph and told him and his brother that they would be joining him at the draft the next day. Joseph and Anthony were so excited and shocked!
St. John’s University Basketball representatives planned a surprise visit for Joseph’s wish reveal party. We ordered custom uniforms for Joseph to suit up his very own “NBA” team; the “Blue Lightning.” Special cupcakes and a cake were made with the logo for his new team. Gary placed benches with “Blue Lightning” and “Visitors” plaques on the court. On the day of the reveal, Coach Lavin, head coach of the St. John’s men’s basketball team, along with the Red Storm cheer and dance team and mascot Johnny Thunderbird, surprised Joseph as they paraded down his street toward his house to meet him and his family and friends. Coach Lavin gave a speech and pronounced Joe to be the youngest person to be offered a St. John’s college scholarship. Even Mister Softee the ice cream man stopped by to give out treats!
As the tarp was removed from the finished court and Joseph was able to play on it for the first time with his brother and his friends, his face gave away his joy. "It was an incredible day that they'll never forget," said Joseph's dad, Tony Isola. “Between Make-A-Wish and St. John’s, it was something that [our family] never dreamed of happening. [The kids] said they just thought they were getting a court, and all the other stuff has been beyond belief. They'll never forget this.”