By: Dale King Contributing Writer
Athletes at Boca Raton’s Lynn University joined forces earlier this year to help Make-A-Wish of Southern Florida grant a 14-year-old boy’s wish to take his family on a Mediterranean cruise so they could view and appreciate places like Italy, France and Spain – countries the teen said are “beautiful.”
The fact that the boy with a dream — Kole Redmond of Parkland – not only loves basketball, but was an avid player at Westglades Middle School in Coral Springs before he was sidelined by bone cancer a year ago — gave an even greater degree of heart-felt gratitude to the college students’ efforts.
Lynn University’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee spent the early part of 2018 doing some creative fundraising to underwrite the cost of Kole’s wish. And when it came time for the big “reveal,” Lynn’s sportsters went all out to make it an exciting event.
The night Kole was invited to attend a Fighting Knights basketball game at Lynn’s Count and Countess de Hoernle Sports and Cultural Center in January, he had no idea the contest was anything but a regular Wednesday night basketball game.
But when the Parkland teen passed through the doors of the athletic facility, he gushed with excitement to find himself “adopted” by the men’s basketball team. They took him into the locker room, give him a personalized jersey and shoes and made him part of the Fighting Knights men’s team, even bestowing on him the title of “honorary captain” for the day.
The presentation took place just before the evening’s game when Kole was led onto the court to be honored by the fans in the bleachers. He learned about his “wish” the same way they did — by way of an announcement over the loud speaker.
The booming voice from above said Kole and his family had been given a Mediterranean cruise. The crowd went wild, and Kole’s 18-year-old sister, Kaiko Winston, ran over to her brother at center court and gave him a huge hug.
Richard Kelly, COO of Make-A-Wish of Southern Florida, said Kole’s hope for a family cruise in the Mediterranean “was referred to us. Simultaneously, we learned that the Student-Athletic Advisory Committee at Lynn was raising money. We presented them with the details of Kole’s story and they chose to fund his wish.”
Kelly said Kole “really loves basketball, but the bone cancer has prevented him from playing.”
“He had no idea this was going to happen,” said the boy’s dad, Robert Winston. Dad, along with Kole’s mom, Lissette Redmond-Winston, are not only delighted with the upcoming voyage, but are overjoyed that their son’s medical condition has dramatically improved.
“Pretty much 99 percent was taken care of with the surgery,” said Robert. “Everything is looking good with his chemo. God willing, this will go on.”
Basketball actually helped Kole discover his bone cancer. “In January 2017, he was playing ball when he banged knees with another player,” said his dad. “Through February, his injury got worse. We kept checking it and checking it.”
Finally, Kole was examined by Dr. Peter Romano in Coconut Creek. The doctor’s physician assistant saw an anomaly on an X-ray and followed up with an MRI. Kole was rushed to Moffitt Cancer Institute in Tampa for immediate treatment of osteosarcoma. “Dr. Romano arranged everything,” said the boy’s relieved dad.
Make-A-Wish Southern Florida has granted more than 11,000 life-changing wishes for every medically-eligible children in its territory. The nonprofit organization makes this happen for the child and family at no cost or obligation.