SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Kobe Bryant is known for winning championships on the basketball court but Make-A-Wish South Dakota staffers say he was just as impactful off it. Bryant was one of the top-requested athletes for wishes according to the organization.
“Unbelievably tragic how that happened and just an all of a sudden moment that created,” Joe Evenson with Make-A-Wish South Dakota said.
Evenson says when Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash this weekend, the world lost an incredible advocate for today’s youth.
Back in 2016, Evenson helped organize a wish for an 11-year-old South Dakota boy with leukemia named Jayden.
“You can imagine what that was like for him to be able to go to LA, to be ushered in a limo from these prime time LA hotels into the LA complex where they practice and they do all their meetings and everything. And to sit down and get a chance to meet Kobe Bryant,” Evenson said.
“We’ve been told that in certain cases where a child maybe wasn’t able to travel because of their condition, he even went to them,” President and CEO of Make-A-Wish South Dakota Sue Salter said.
Salter says the effort Bryant put into making high quality wishes come true made a big difference in these kids’ lives. Salter says that’s how she’ll remember Bryant.
“A lot of sadness but also a recognition of what a legend Kobe was in bringing that hope and joy to kids who needed it most,” Salter said.
“Tremendous. This guy has granted over 200 wishes. We kind of tend to look at the athletic abilities and the legend that was created on the court but sometimes we don’t get a chance to heighten who he was off the court and the things he did for so many kids,” Evenson said.
Salter says her thoughts and prayers are with Bryant’s family and the families of all the other victims involved in the tragic crash.