Edinboro athletic teams grant wish, raise money

Categories:  News    Sports
Wednesday, February 14th, 2018 at 7:55 PM

Between high energy basketball games, Edinboro University athletes took a moment to grant a girl’s wish. On Saturday, Feb. 10, following the Edinboro women’s basketball team’s win over the Gannon Golden Knights, the school hosted its annual Make-A-Wish Awareness Day. 

Edinboro men’s basketball also played against Gannon on Feb. 10. During the first half of their game, there were several media breaks to introduce past recipients of Make-A-Wish wishes. Each “wish kid” was hosted by an Edinboro team. 

The first wish kid was Johnny Palmieri, a 12-year-old from Russell, Pennsylvania. In June 2014, Palmieri went to Florida. There, he visited both Disney World and Universal Studios, the latter leading to a meeting with some Transformers. 

Lucas Smith, from Erie, also chose to go to Disney World. In February 2011, he traveled to “where dreams come true” and met Buzz Lightyear. 

Sponsored by the Edinboro swim team, Roman Pfister, a 9-year-old from Erie, got to meet his favorite race car at Disney World —Lightning McQueen —in October 2015.

This past November, Vinny Dudzenski also chose to go to Orlando. Dudzenski is an 11-year-old from Greenville, Pennsylvania.

The last wish kid announced was the guest of honor, Paige Link. Link is 14 years old and from Hadley, Pennsylvania. The eighth-grader loves science and animals, and her favorites of the latter are snowy owls and horses. Link’s love of living things is what inspired her to want to become a zoo veterinarian. 

Link said in an interview following the event that originally she wanted to become an exotic animal surgeon, but her love of zoos made her change her career goal. Link has wanted to be a zoo veterinarian for a couple of years, she explained. What attracts her to this is the chance to help animals. 

During halftime of the men’s game, Link was brought out onto the center of the court. Before her grand wish reveal, Edinboro sports teams gave her several gifts relating to her trip.

The women’s basketball team presented Link with pre-booked airline tickets to California. The tennis team brought out new luggage for Link in her favorite color so it could easily be found at the airport. As for a carry-on bag — an Asics backpack — that was supplied by the volleyball team. Inside it was a Harry Potter blanket for added comfort on the 2,500-mile plane ride. 

Finally, Link’s wish was granted and the swim team gifted Link tickets to the San Diego Zoo where she would learn how to be a zookeeper for a day. 

Link was surprised to learn that not only was her wish of visiting the San Diego Zoo granted, but she would also be visiting SeaWorld thanks to the lacrosse team. 

In addition to this, the football team gave Link a stuffed elephant, while the track and field and soccer teams gave her gift certificates to Pizza Hut and Buffalo Wild Wings. 

The wrestling team gave her Edinboro sweatshirts and a picture frame signed by all of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) members, which accompanied the cross country team’s gift of a Shutterfly gift certificate so she can remember her trip. 

Lastly, the softball team told Link that they would like to make her an honorary team member. She was presented with an official jersey. To put her jersey to use, Link was invited to throw out the first pitch upon her return home from San Diego.

Link graciously accepted her wish and all the gifts with a huge smile. 

Following the ceremony, she posed for pictures with members of SAAC and MacCato, Edinboro’s Fighting Scot mascot, while Edinboro student-athletes went through the stands collecting donations to make future wishes come true. 

Link will be making her trip to the San Diego Zoo in March of this year. 

Hannah McDonald can be reached at eupnews.spectator@gmail.com.

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