Harlem Globetrotters Visit Makes for the “Best Day Ever!”
March 26th, 2019
Maya Kolbasnik, a grade 6 student at Abraham Erb Public School in Waterloo, had no reason to think that Thursday, March 21 would be different from any other Thursday. That all changed when two Harlem Globetrotters walked into her classroom.
Maya’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. She was diagnosed with a brain tumour at just a year and a half old and has been in and out of the hospital in the years since. “She’s gone through a lot,” said Maya’s mom, Alexandra Ilich. “She’s pretty much spent her whole life on chemo.”
In March 2018, Maya was scheduled to sing the Canadian national anthem at a Globetrotter’s game in Kitchener with the Grand Philharmonic Children’s Choir. Unfortunately, Ilich explained, Maya was hospitalized at Sick Kids in Toronto and was unable to sing the national anthem alongside her friends.
As luck would have it, the Harlem Globetrotters happened to be doing a Smile Patrol visit to the hospital, and they were able to come by and visit with Maya. Zeus McClurkin, one of the Globetrotters who met her that day, has kept in touch and organized the surprise visit when he learned the team would be stopping in nearby Toronto.
Just before the lunch bell rang on Thursday, March 21, McClurkin, along with Champ Thompson, burst into Maya’s classroom, leaving her and her classmates genuinely surprised. The two players gave a brief demonstration to the class, then took Maya off to spend lunchtime together and learn a bit more about her. After lunch, the rest of the students of Abraham Erb were treated to a surprise anti-bullying assembly hosted by Zeus and Champ, along with their amazing basketball skills.
For McClurkin, seeing Maya out of the hospital and back at school brought it full circle. “Last time we saw Maya, she was at Sick Kids,” he explained. “It was very special, not just for Maya, but it was important for me to be able to see her out and running.” The smile on her face was all the evidence he needed to know his efforts, and the efforts of his teammates were paying off.
Heather Schumann, principal at Abraham Erb, was delighted to see the Harlem Globetrotters making the special visit for Maya, describing it as “a true act of kindness.” Maya will be graduating at the end of this school year, and Schumann is sad to see her go. “She’s a firecracker,” she said, while marvelling at her eternally optimistic, resilient and hopeful spirit. Sharing this special day with Maya is the perfect sendoff. “She’s our family,” said Schumann.
As for Maya, she summed up the day perfectly in three words: “Best day ever!”