Paul George Celebrates Stroke Survivors With Christmas Party
By Jimmy Do | okcthunder.com
Paul George’s given laser tag name “Father Xmas” was amongst the top scores that flashed on the monitor once the light show fracas ended.
Where Tron visuals tangled with Wild West mores inside the dark, fog-filled multi-level corridors, it was no small feat for the 6-foot-9 George, who was under siege from all of the trigger-happy kids taking aim at him as their favorite target.
Through the Paul George Foundation, the friendly zap session was part of the fun and games at Main Event Entertainment during the inaugural PG Christmas Celebration for seven local families with stroke survivors.
With a red Santa hat sat cocked atop his head, George arrived with a large bag full of gifts slung over his shoulder, doing his best impersonation of Jolly Old St. Nick.
As a champion for stroke awareness, George saw the Sunday afternoon as a chance to uplift the families on hand during the holiday season.
“This is a very important and sensitive topic for me. It’s something that is dear to my heart,” he said. “There’s no better way than having Christmas when you need that love and support.”
George pointed to a time when he saw paramedics carry his mother Paulette on a stretcher.
The scene of the ambulance and its flashing lights at the family house while helplessly watching his mother incapacitated was a jarring experience for a 6-year-old George.
While a pair of blood clots almost claimed her life, the traumatic childhood episode rocked George’s world for life.
Yet, it allowed George to turn pain into purpose.
“I’ve been in these kids’ situation in not knowing what was going on,” he said. “It’s being there for them, for the stroke victims and their loved ones.”
Thereby, the children in the survivors’ families in attendance have a leading advocate in the Thunder superstar in their corner as their shared experiences and testimonies defined their ties together.
Between racking up the high score in Pop-A-Shot or taking cover from would-be snipers in laser tag shootouts, the day spent with the families took on a deeper significance for George.
“It’s bigger than basketball or having a day off. It’s doing something impactful,” he said. “This touches home; this is big for my heart.”
A dream come true. Honey Scott on meeting George: "He's an amazing person. He's awesome and he has a great personality." Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
Support for survivors. Darrell Bradley: "It let me know that people think about us. I never doubted his character. He's a wonderful person to do this." Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
PG the Pop-A-Shot King. Along with gifts including jerseys, gift cards and sneakers, George hands out Ls at Pop-A-Shot for the kids. Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
This is why we play. George: “It’s an experience they can walk away from that I’m sure they’ve been going through a lot at an early age. Just to relieve some stress and get them out and have some fun.” Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
Watch: Paul George Christmas Party