Every step taken in life is part of a learning process. Sometimes you walk into unknown territory, not knowing what to expect. Sometimes you might end up in a place you never even knew existed, learning about complications that can affect anyone’s life in a split second. For Boston Celtics power forward Chris Wilcox, Lupus was something that he learned about in a way that no one ever hopes to learn about something so negative, through his own family.
When Chris was younger, two of his aunts passed away from Lupus and his sister was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) when she a 17-year old high school student. Through this, Chris learned everything there was to know about the disease and started working to support all families who were affected by this, hoping to find a cure.
“I started doing stuff like this when I first got into the NBA,” mentioned the Raleigh, North Carolina native. “I have been doing the golf tournaments and basketball camps for ten years now and I’ve gotten really involved because it has really started to grow these past couple of years,” he continued.
“I just want to help raise awareness and money to find a cure or to slow down this disease.“
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease with no known cause or cure. When suffering from the disease, the immune system can’t tell the difference between foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues. Normally the immune system is able to fight off these invaders, but because the body can’t tell the difference, it creates autoantibodies that attack and ultimately destroy healthy tissues.
Due to the severity of this disease and being someone who has been affected by it personally, Wilcox continues to do what he can to not only help raise money for Lupus, but to help raise awareness and spread the word to people everywhere about what it is and how severe it can be.
“I think the biggest challenge of getting the word out there is trying to reach everyone,” mentioned the power forward out of Maryland. “Even with things like Facebook and Twitter, you still have people who aren’t on these websites so we try to do whatever we can to help spread the word to those people and open up resources to everyone so they can gain some knowledge on the subject.“
Chris Wilcox has been active within the community since day one. He continues to host his Annual Charity Golf Outing year after year, as well as the Chris Wilcox Basketball Camp. As much as he does to raise money and awareness for Lupus and the Lupus Foundation of America, he also wants to give the kids a bright future and help guide them in the right direction of life. He understands how blessed he is to be in the situation that he is in right now, and he doesn’t take a minute of it for granted.
“I have got to use what I’ve got to my advantage and now that I’m in the NBA and I’m still playing, you know, I just use it to my advantage to help reach out to people,” stated the 2002 1st round pick of the Los Angeles Clippers.
“Once they see an NBA player come to town they kind of want to stay attached to them, so I try to send a positive word or positive message through everything that I do.”
And every time he is in town, he makes sure to get the most smiles out of the children as possible.
“I have the most fun with the kids, just seeing the outcome in all of them and the parents, seeing a smile on their faces is why I do what I do,” elucidated Wilcox. “I think it’s the best thing and when you give back, just seeing a smile on a kid’s face is a good enough reward for what you’re doing.”
While playing with the New York Knicks, Wilcox visited a young girl in the hospital by the name of Jasmina Anema, a six-year old who was suffering from NK cell Leukemia. He brought her a Build-A-Bear and spent the afternoon at her bedside, talking and joking with the young girl as he helped her make her bear.
“We went out and found a donor for her and she had a great surgery and procedure, but she died nearly three years ago and that was something that really touched me a lot,” described Wilcox. “As sad as it was, it gave me the opportunity to realize that not everyone is in the same situation, so whatever you can do to put a smile on a kid’s face, you don’t know how far that is going to take them.”
Chris continues to help all sorts of children and families out across North America. Whether it be through the work he does for the Lupus Foundation of America or local community efforts he puts forth when he’s back at home, he enjoys every last minute of it.
“When I’m at home, I’m all around and all over so the kids get a chance to come and talk to me and I love talking to them,” said Wilcox.
“It’s great to go home and have the love still there, but it’s also great to see the kids looking up to you to have a better future. I’ve got a great support system back at home so every time I go home I try to do something in the community because I’ve got a love for that and I do it all for the kids,” he continued.
“There’s nowhere in my hometown for them to go, so I try to reach out to them and let them know that life is better than what they are seeing,” he explained.
No matter what city Chris Wilcox is playing or living in, he will always continue to put forth an effort in the community to help better someone else’s life. He continues to do what he can to help raise money and awareness for the disease that has affected him personally and any other families who have been through what he has in his lifetime. Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, or Boston, Wilcox is no stranger in the community and will always be there to lend a helping hand to those in need.
To stay up to date with Chris Wilcox, visit http://www.chriswilcox.com/index.php
To learn more about lupus and the Lupus Foundation of America, visit http://www.lupus.org/newsite/index.html