Wolves Honor 16-Year-Old Maria, 10-Year-Old Rui Rui As Part Of WolvesCare


The Timberwolves honored 16-year-old Maria and 10-year-old Rui Rui as part of WolvesCare Month on Friday during a center court presentation. (Photo Credit: David Sherman & Jordan Johnson/NBAE/Getty Images)

This was a first for both 16-year-old Maria and 10-year-old Rui Rui. The two were side-by-side at center court on Friday night as the Target Center crowd gave them an ovation.

As part of WolvesCare Month, the Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation, the Roger & Nancy McCabe Foundation and C.H. Robinson Worldwide honored children with life-threatening or long-term illnesses for their bravery and strength, and Friday as the Timberwolves hosted the Grizzlies these two fans got a chance to experience something new for the first time.

“It was really cool,” Rui Rui said. “It was really fun to be out there and see the crowd waving and cheering.”

Rui Rui is living with Charcot Mari-Tooth Disease, while Maria was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy when she was 1 year old. Both are active members at their schools, as Maria is on her high school cheerleading squad and enjoys singing and playing hockey. Rui Rui enjoys swimming, kayaking, canoeing and singing in her children’s choir.

They were honored on the court as Wolves President Chris Wright and C.H. Robinson representative Travis Hilgers presented them with Nikola Pekovic jerseys. Throughout their time on the court, the crowd received them with a special round of applause.

“Amazing,” Maria said. “The crowd is just so awesome, and it’s really cool.”

This was the final home game of WolvesCare Month 2014, which featured eight on-court presentations just like the one Maria and Rui Rui experienced on Friday night. Throughout the month, the Wolves and C.H. Robinson not only honor kids for their strength but also help put together outings that put smiles on their faces. One example was the Mall Of America Takeover, which included kids going to Build-A-Bear with Timberwolves players and getting ice cream afterwards.

On Friday night, Maria and Rui Rui spent the game in a suite. It was a memory the families as a whole won’t forget anytime soon. Maria’s dad, Dean, said this is a special opportunity to see the other side of a professional sports team, including players coming up to meet them.

“That’s great for them to do that, because it shows the other side of them,” Dean said. “Besides just the professional side. They make time for the public the best they can. They can’t get out like we can get out, because they get swarmed. So they do what they can do, and this is what they do and they really enjoy doing it.”

Rui Rui’s dad, Ethan, said he really appreciated getting a chance to see an NBA game with his daughter and get to experience the roar of the crowd first-hand when she went onto the court.

“To experience what it’s like to be in front of a huge crowd of people and to be recognized for the challenges that they face,” Ethan said. “The organization that they represent, that’s quite an honor for them.”

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