Magic Make One Local Boy’s Wish Come True as Team’s First “Magic Maker”
By John Denton
ORLANDO – From his position near the Amway Center court 10-year-old Caleb Dominguez looked on with great interest as Magic standouts Victor Oladipo and Maurice Harkless went through vigorous stretching exercises prior to their pregame shooting sessions.
It was then that Caleb told his father, Marco, and his mother, Angela, that he could relate to the highly skilled NBA players because he too has to go through similar stretching exercises. Born with cerebral palsy and in a wheelchair most of his life, Caleb goes to therapy twice a day in the hopes that he can someday soon walk with the assistance of a walker.
Angela Dominguez said that after seeing Oladipo and Harkless in action, her son – who has always fashioned himself as a ballplayer because of his love of playing with balls – can’t wait to work on stretching and strengthening his legs at his next therapy session.
“He was watching the Magic guys stretch just like he does. They have to stretch out their legs just like he does because he’s trying to get up and walk,” said Angela Dominguez, whose family lives in East Orlando. “That helps show him that the players work hard to do what they do and he has to work hard in therapy, too.”
Added Marco: “Caleb told me, ‘Dad, they’re out there working just like I do. Now I have to work and stretch like they do so I can become a basketball player, too.’”
Caleb, a fifth grader, got to experience a life-long dream last Friday night when he was invited by the Magic to the Amway Center for a VIP experience. The Dominguez family got courtside tickets for the game and Caleb got a personalized jersey to wear. Topping off the experience, he was greeted before the game by Magic standouts Tobias Harris, Oladipo and Harkless and Community Ambassadors Nick Anderson and Bo Outlaw. The current and past players signed autographs, joked around and slapped high-fives with Caleb.
“It’s just such a great feeling to see a kid like Caleb smiling and having fun,” Harkless said. “It’s also humbling to realize how fortunate we are as NBA players to do what we do. So if we can do just a little bit to make someone’s day, it’s so important.”
In celebration of the Magic’s 25th anniversary season, the organization will be granting “25 Magic Makers” for local youth in the Central Florida community who have had or are suffering from life-threatening medical conditions. The “Magic Makers” program will be fulfilled on 25 occasions throughout the 2013-14 Magic season.
Marco Dominguez said the Magic should be lauded for making a difference in the community and fulfilling the dreams of children in Central Florida.
“This is an awesome experience that the Magic are providing for Caleb and I think it’s great to know that they are about so much more than just the games,” Marco said. “They are about the kids and the next generation. They are showing them that they can be something special. For the Magic to reach out to kids with special needs and let them know that they are here and that they can be a part of something like this, it’s extraordinary. I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for doing this for Caleb and others.”
The courtside experience for the Dominguez family was the first time that Caleb has ever been to a game at the Amway Center. Described by his father as “an extrovert who has never met a stranger,” Caleb usually becomes quite vocal when watching Magic games on television. Basketball has always been his favorite sport and the Magic will forever be his favorite team following Friday’s meet-and-greet with Harris, Oladipo and Harkless. “Basketball is everything to him when it comes to sports,” Marco said. “He’s usually like, ‘ball, ball, ball,’ and if you give him a ball he’s happy. And if it’s a basketball, it’s even better. And getting to experience this night with the Magic, he’s still letting it all sink in, but he’s loving every second of it.”