Hemby Bridge Elementary student fulfills lifelong dream of meeting NBA superstar
Jonathan Page’s life changed five years ago when he was suddenly diagnosed with Methylmalonic Acidemia, a rare genetic disorder that has resulted in a loss of major motor skills and developmental abilities.
But this week, the Hemby Bridge Elementary first grader will experience another life-changing event as he fulfills his dream of meeting his sports hero, Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry.
Jonathan received the news that he would be traveling to California in less than 24 hours during a surprise sendoff at his school, courtesy of wish-granting organization Dream on Three and a local charity. To make his sendoff extra special, local firefighters and sheriff’s deputies as well as Jonathan’s family members, friends and classmates cheered him on as he received the news.
“I’m excited. It’s kind of overwhelming with everything that’s happening,” said Loree Oliver, Jonathan’s mother. “It’s been a long journey, but I think we’re ready.”
Anyone who knows Jonathan knows that he loves basketball, and more specifically Stephen Curry. Not only does he love watching the sport on television, he also competes locally with the wheelchair basketball program Charlotte Rollin Hornets.
It’s an amazing and inspirational recovery for the young boy who at only two years old, his mother said, was found unresponsive in his bed early one morning.
“He was pretty critical when he came to the hospital, and his life was in jeopardy. But to see him not only get through that challenging situation but to be doing so incredibly well every day is nothing short of amazing,” said Levine Children’s Hospital’s Dr. Dwight Bailey, who was also in attendance at Jonathan’s school celebration. “I couldn’t be more happy to see how incredible he’s doing and for him to be granted this wish.”
After his school celebration, Loree credited Jonathan’s recovery during the past five years to a collaborative process among many people.
Physical, speech and occupational therapists, which they immediately enrolled him in as soon as he got home from the hospital, set him on a path to recovery which continued when they enrolled him in Union County Public Schools’ Exceptional Children’s Program in 2013.
“At his school, he was also able to receive speech, physical and occupational therapy at school,” she said. “So between his private therapists and his school therapists, that collaboration process helped to make his recovery so much easier.”
As he watched the students cheer for Jonathan, Dream on Three representative Mike Dascal said seeing the excitement and hope in children’s eyes when they realize their sports wishes will be granted is an addicting feeling.
“To be able to provide them with an opportunity for two or three days where they can forget about the hardships they have been through and struggles they may be going through currently and just have a great time -- to have an ability to play a small role in that is just an addicting feeling that keeps us coming back for more,” he said.
Loree said that although Jonathan knew that he had been selected as a Dream recipient, he didn’t know the details surrounding his experience, which, in addition to meeting Steph Curry, will also include a trip to an amusement park and tickets to a Golden State Warriors vs. Atlanta Hawks game on March 23.
“It’s been a long time coming. He’s experienced rough times for the past five years, but our good days have outweighed our bad days,” she said. “This week, it’s going to be awesome.”