By David McCollum
Central Arkansas student-athletes surround Make-A-Wish recipient Logan Beck (yellow shirt) during the halftime presentation.
It began as a routine contest at halftime of the University of Central Arkansas basketball game on Feb. 19.
Things were transformed into a dream fulfilled.
Names were supposedly “randomly” drawn for a game of “knockout,” a free-throw-shooting contest with a twist as a participant tries to knock out the opponent ahead of him by hitting a shot after he misses.
The names drawn from this contest all mysteriously were UCA athletes in various sports – except for a 15-year-old youngster named Logan Beck.
As the contestants lined up behind each other at the free-throw line, Beck was given the first shot.
This was to be a special competition of “knockout,” and the contestants behind Beck were asked to back away from the foul line as the youngster lined up his shot. Then, they snuck up behind him to halfcourt, where a covered contraption had suddenly appeared.
As Beck started to take his shot, he was told there was no need. He was told to turn around. At that moment, the athletes removed the cover from the device at halfcourt and it was revealed to be an Xbox 360 Kinect with a monitor and all the trappings.
Beck is in the “Make-A-Wish” program. The UCA Student-Athlete Advisory Council had sponsored a pancake breakfast to raise funds to grant a wish for a youngster.
Beck, the one selected, had wished for the video-gaming device. The look on his face when he saw what was happening was worth the hours the athletes and UCA officials had spent early on a Sunday morning flipping pancakes.
Representatives of several sports, either out of season or not involved in competition – men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, football and tennis – joined in the celebration that included pictures on the court, then a special meet-and-great time with the teen-aged boy that featured family and friends with cake and refreshments in an adjacent room. There were plenty of smiles and tears.
After the game, UCA men’s coach Corliss Williamson visited with Beck and his family and signed autographs on various types of gear.
It was a heartwarming scene on several levels. And it was a great experience for the UCA athletes who are involved in their various sports at different times and often don’t get to relate and experience fellowship with each other.
“Really, I think the athletes enjoyed this as much as (Beck) did,” said Natalie Shock, UCA’s assistant athletics director for compliance who helped coordinate the event.
As the Xbox was wheeled from the arena, it was surrounded with several games.
One of them was “Call of Duty.”
David McCollum is a sports columnist for the Log Cabin Democrat, in which this article originally appeared.