Derek was diagnosed in 2014 with epilepsy after a sleep study showed that he was having seizures at night every five minutes. Derek was taking six different seizure medications four times a day to manage his condition. He underwent a series of three brain surgeries at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin in Milwaukee to pinpoint where the seizures originate from in his brain. Unfortunately, the surgeries were unsuccessful. Doctors implanted a Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) device under the skin on his chest wall as a preventative measure. It sends regular mild pulses of electrical energy to Derek’s brain. Still, it is not uncommon for Derek to have up to 40 seizures in a single night.
The 12-year-old was past due for a break from the realities of his life-threatening illness, so Star Wishes for Children sent him on the wish of his dreams. Derek is a huge Oklahoma Thunder fan, and more than anything in this world, he wanted to meet his basketball idol, Kevin Durant. With the help of Oklahoma City Thunder, Star Wishes for Children granted his wish at a Sunday afternoon’s showdown as the Thunder took on the Milwaukee Bucks. A limo, courtesy of Custom Limousine Service, escorted Derek and his family to the BMO Harris Bradley Center, where he watched his favorite team warm-up before the big game and interacted with the players. From his courtside seat, Derek had a front row view of all of the action.
Clad in a Thunder’s cap and Durant’s #35 jersey, Derek was ready to meet his personal MVP. Kevin stepped forward and swiftly fulfilled Derek’s wildest sports fantasy in the span of a handshake and a manly side-hug. The two bonded over their mutual passion as the power forward autographed Derek’s basketball and Thunder gear while posing for photos. It is a memory that Derek will cherish for the rest of his life, made extra special by other members of the team who stopped by for introductions as well. Notably, Russell Westbrook, Enes Kanter, Kyle Singler, Josh Huestis, and Steven Adams all made a point to spend time getting to know Derek before the game-time crowd arrived.
Once the Thunder dominated its competition in a 104-96 win, a star-struck and glowing Derek had the chance to meet living legends Cameron Payne, Randy Foye, and Nick Collision as well and congratulate them on their victory. It was truly the experience of a lifetime that brought him untold joy. Derek’s wish also consisted of a trip to Lightspeed Go Karts, Laser Tag & Arcade, dinner show reservations at ComedySportz Club, a private VIP guided tour of Miller Park and a stay at the Plaza Hotel in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. Now back at home, Derek is still undergoing treatment for his condition. He will likely be scheduled for more surgery in the future.
Kid’s Wish Network would like to thank all of the sponsors who helped make Derek’s dream come true:
• Oklahoma City Thunder
• Kevin Durant
• Jim & Julie Mai
• Miller Park
• Buca Di Beppo
• ComedySportz Club
• Custom Limousine Service
• The Plaza Hotel Milwaukee
• Lightspeed Go Karts, Laser Tag & Arcade