Fan Friday is a regular feature run by KWAPT that highlights some great Celtics fans. That regular feature will return in a few weeks. This, though, is a special Fan Friday sent to us by one of our readers. We loved the story about this young child’s experience with Jeff Green so much, we had to share it.
My name is Chris Bongiovanni. I am a die-hard Celtics fan and also a first time half-season ticket owner this season. I am a regular reader on Red’s Army and comment from time to time under the username Chris57 in the threads. Just like the rest of you, I am eagerly awaiting the beginning of the regular season on October 30th and thought it would be a good time to share my special experience I had at the training facility in Waltham a few weeks ago.
My girlfriend’s brother Joey was born with a heart condition and has already gone through many surgeries and procedures in his young life. He, along with about 10 other kids, were invited to meet Jeff Green at the facility in Waltham to shoot a PSA with the American Heart Association for Celtics On Demand to promote children learning CPR. I got to accompany Joey and his mother to the shooting, and what a special morning it was.
We started off in the Hall of Fame room, which was decorated with glass casings of all the legend’s game worn jerseys, sneakers, and other memorabilia. It was great to peek around at the amazing collection they had on display. The room overlooks the gym at the training facility through a large glass window. There were probably 25 of us total, with about 10 kids and 15 family members.
Next thing we know Jeff Green comes into the room with a few camera men and introduces himself. After a few minutes of getting to know everyone, Jeff takes us all on a very VIP tour of the facility. We got to go into the hallway that had the offices of Doc and Wyc, and even got to go inside Danny Ainge’s, where I spotted the Larry O’Brien trophy from 2008. He then brought us into the workout room where I spotted Darko Milicic doing some exercises before his first walk through with the staff. As the tour continued, Jeff took us outside to show how amazing the security of the facility is. He demonstrated to us how at the player’s entrance door you have to enter in a personal pin code before your hand is scanned and the door is unlocked. It was pretty amazing to see and felt like it was out of the movies.
After the tour, Jeff played ball with the kids and did all sorts of drills including dribbling, lay-ups, passing, and defensive footwork with them. Jeff made a point of being personal with the kids and really making them all feel special. They felt a true connection through their life threatening heart problems, whether past or present. Before the commercial shoot, Jeff sat down in a circle with the children while they all shared a personal story about what they had been through with their hearts. He told them that he has the same scar as they do, and at first he hated it and was self-conscious, but now he embraces it and is proud of it. It was a great example for the kids to see that you can still persevere and thrive in life, even when you have health conditions that might set you back.
At the end of the morning all the kids were handed bags filled with Celtics gear and accessories with a basketball that Jeff went on to sign for them. He also took personal pictures with everyone there. Jeff’s helper through out the day came out at the end and said they had something very unique that they had left over from last season to give out. Everybody was given a brand new pair of size 16 Jermaine O’Neal sneakers. He even gave me a pair since he had a few extras.
The whole morning was run very professionally and showed what a class act organization that Celtics are. Jeff Green was a true professional and I can’t wait to cheer him on this year while he is backing up Paul Pierce. Here are some pictures from the day. LET’S GO CELTICS! BANNER 18!
Chris shared a few photos with us, which we’ve put into the gallery below. Thank you Chris for sharing your story. It seemed like an amazing experience.