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Basketball Dreams Come True
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March 4, 2019

When I began my weekly veteran recovery support group on December 20, 2018, I had no idea the path it would lead me to tell you about today. During our group I was touched by a story from a very special veteran. This gentleman served in the Army and has been attending my group for the last six months. He often is just a listener in group but that day I asked him this question, “What is the biggest waste of human potential?”. I wanted to get him to talk more. After a few minutes of thought, he spoke up. He stated that he feels the biggest waste of human potential is when a child who lives in the ghetto doesn’t get the opportunity to live up to their potential, their talents, their dreams. He proceeded to tell the group this story. In high school he was a star athlete, he played football, baseball and basketball. He was the quarterback, pitcher and a guard. He made the All-city team twice while growing up in Brooklyn, NY. He lettered in all three sports and was offered a scholarship to play basketball at University of Maryland.
Unfortunately, he chose the wrong path of drugs and ultimately lost the scholarship as a result. He came from a pretty unstable home, an alcoholic father who wasn’t present, only a stepmom who didn’t love him. When he finished his story, the group was silent at first but then everyone began to show their support for him for sharing such a painful and life altering event, that resulted in years of regret and struggle. He has been sober for several years. Needless to say, I was moved to reach out to athletic director, Damon Evans at University of MD via email telling him this story and asking for the opportunity for this gentleman to be able to attend a Terps basketball game and maybe even get a chance to meet the team. I could only imagine how much different his life could have been, had he had the right guidance, a stronger family. He is a gentle and kind man who has begun to age and have health issues. If only we could give him one great experience, this would be the one. And sure enough a week or so later I received a call from another athletic staff member, Jake Longenecker and they wanted to do something special for him!
On February 23rd, I along with the veteran, his sister and brother were greeted at the Xfinity Center by one of the student team managers, Alex. We were given a tour of the whole facility, met some amazing people, shot some hoops on the court and then sat front row for the UMD vs. OSU men’s basketball game. To say it was beyond his wildest dreams is an understatement. He thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience along with his sister and brother. And we all agreed that we want to make this a yearly event and that I am now a part of their family! For me, to see the huge smile on his face the whole day made it all worth it. Doing kind and simple things for our fellow man can go a long way and I will continue to do so for as long as I can! Serving those who served!
Renee Nordstrom
Charlotte Hall Veterans Home


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