By Becky Mayad | Contributor
The holidays are typically a joyous time for children, but that’s not always the case for those spending the season in a hospital bed or affected with a serious medical condition.
Last December Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić paid tribute to his roots by devising a special holiday surprise for young patients at a Ljubljana children’s hospital in Slovenia.
With a generous heart and a love to serve others, the three-time All-NBA First Team and All-Star wanted to expand his holiday giving this year beyond Slovenia to also include children from his “second” hometown, Dallas.
Earlier today approximately 200 pediatric patients at Dallas’ Scottish Rite for Children gathered for a fun-filled party – packed with gifts, games and activities – that Luka helped plan and fund through the Luka Dončić Foundation. His foundation’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of children through play.
“I hope this makes them happy and puts a smile on their face,” said Luka. “They are so brave and strong, and I want them to know I’m thinking of them during the holidays and wishing them all the best in the New Year!”
Today’s celebration and party at Scottish Rite included holiday crafts; decorating cookies, ornaments and gingerbread houses; face painting; an interactive photo booth; a hot cocoa and coffee stand; and more.
Gifts, personally chosen by Luka, were also given to the children from him.
In addition to toys and games, Luka teamed up with a few “elves” at NERF, Jordan Brand and Chess.com. They provided NERF basketball hoops and NERF blasters, Jordan Brand apparel and drawstring bags, ChessKid gifts, and a premium year-long membership at ChessKid.com or Chess.com (depending on the child’s age).
And Luka didn’t forget the dedicated, hardworking healthcare staff who provide round-the-clock daily care for the young patients. Luka gave 25 Scottish Rite healthcare workers two lower-bowl tickets to watch the Dallas Mavericks play the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day.
“We loved seeing the children’s eyes light up and hearing their excitement when they received these generous gifts from Luka and his foundation,” said Stephanie Brigger, Vice President of Development at Scottish Rite for Children. “Scottish Rite is honored to be a part of Luka’s holiday giving and grateful for his help making the season merry and bright for our patients and staff!”
Never forgetting his homeland, he’s also expanding his involvement in Slovenia. This year he’s arranged special holiday deliveries, gifts and treats on Dec. 21 and 22 for approximately 150 patients at two hospitals – UKC Maribor – Pediatrics and the Hospital for Children, located outside his hometown, Ljubljana.
Follow the Luka Dončić Foundation on Instagram.
Photo Credit: Scottish Rite for Children