Saturday, January 18 was a special day for Zips Basketball. The men's team was having a showdown with top ranked MAC foe, Toledo, and the women's team was hosting cross town rival, Kent State. Both teams were playing host to a group of Mr. LeBron's Wheels for Ed kids. While the basketball was great, the true highlight of the day was our very own Ms. Mariah.
The large and raucous crowd sat captivated and momentarily silent. All of their attention was drawn to center court. It was not a fast-break, or a hard foul, but a small figure standing tall. It was Wheels for Education Class of 2021 All-Star, Ms. Mariah.
Hi, my name is Mariah and I am one of Mr. LeBron's Wheels for Education Kids. I am in the class of 2021 and I have been working hard in the Wheels for Ed program.
Her commanding voice and infectious smile filled the packed arena.
Mr. LeBron makes sure I keep my PROMISE to do my homework, listen to my teachers, and study. He wants me to work hard so that I can finish school. I want to be a veterinarian and I know that means I need to work hard so I can graduate from high school and go to college. I know that Mr. LeBron is looking out for me. We have a special PROMISE together and since he could not be here, he asked me to lead everyone in our PROMISE.
So would all the Wheels for Ed kids and families and the Foundation please stand and recite the promise with me....
With all eyes on center court, Ms. Mariah began reciting the PROMISE to the crowd. She recited each line proudly and confidently, the same way her hero, Mr. LeBron, recited the PROMISE to her at the first Wheels for Ed event, when Ms. Mariah was just entering third grade. As she progressed through the PROMISE, more and more voices joined the Wheels for Ed chorus.
And above all else, TO FINISH SCHOOL!
By the time her words echoed through the JAR, nearly every fan, including the athletes gathered at center court, shouted, "TO FINISH SCHOOL!"
Ms. Mariah finished her speech by acknowledging The University of Akron's Student Athletes and giving them a token of her and Mr. LeBron's appreciation.
Now I would like to recognize The University of Akron's Student Athletes who have worked hard and made the Dean's List! Thank you for being a role model... I would like to give each of you an I PROMISE band. This is something that is very important to me and Mr. LeBron. He wears his every game and I wear mine every day. I want you to have this because I think you are a great role model just like Mr. LeBron.
There are tangible ways to measure the impact of a program and a community, they come in the form of easily interpretable data. This moment was not one of them.
We are so proud of Ms. Mariah and all of our Wheels for Ed All-Stars.