More than 400 students at Coolidge Middle School received a surprise visit from Boston Celtic center Chris Wilcox on Thursday as part of the school’s 5th Annual Hoops for Heart championship game celebration. The students were amongst thousands of participants across the state playing basketball for the American Heart Association - but also for their own hearts this winter.
Wilcox, who has battled his own journey with heart disease and recently recovered from open-heart surgery this past year, thanked the students for their participation in Hoops for Heart, a national educational fund-raising program that is sponsored by the American Heart Association, and encouraged the students to stay physically active and make heart healthy decisions. Wilcox shared some of the improvements he has made in his own life such as changing eating habits, as well as how he inspired his parents to adopt more heart healthy behaviors.
Chris is a current player for the Boston Celtics, and is in his 10th year in the NBA and was part of the 2002 University of Maryland National Championship Team. Last year during a routine physical, team doctors discovered that Chris had an enlarged aorta, which is a life threatening condition. On March 29, 2012, Wilcox had open heart surgery at The Cleveland Clinic to repair the aorta and after being cleared to play again by doctors, resigned with the Boston Celtics on July 24th, only four months post-surgery and two months ahead of schedule.
We know that childhood obesity is one of our nation’s leading health threats. In addition to raising life-saving funds, Hoops for Heart also promotes physical activity, helping kids to live stronger, more active lives. For the students involved it was great to for the students and school to get a visit from Chris!