Oklahoma City Thunder: Why a made half-court shot was an answered prayer for Kufahl family

As Jenni Kufahl went through chemo for stomach cancer, she felt called to share her story. After her husband Heath hit a half-court shot at a Thunder game, Jenni and Heath gained a worldwide audience for their story.
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 14, 2013


photo - Heath Kufahl is the boys basketball coach at Christian Heritage Academy in Del City, but last spring, he became one of the fans who hit the half-court shot at a Thunder game. His story went viral because he hit the shot shortly after  his wife, Jenni, was diagnosed  with stomach cancer. Making the basket gave the couple a chance to share their story with millions. Heath and Jenni are shown in their home on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman  Jim Beckel - THE OKLAHOMAN
Heath Kufahl is the boys basketball coach at Christian Heritage Academy in Del City, but last spring, he became one of the fans who hit the half-court shot at a Thunder game. His story went viral because he hit the shot shortly after his wife, Jenni, was diagnosed with stomach cancer. Making the basket gave the couple a chance to share their story with millions. Heath and Jenni are shown in their home on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013. Photo by Jim Beckel, The Oklahoman Jim Beckel - THE OKLAHOMAN

Heath Kufahl always told his kids at Christian Heritage Academy that if he ever got to shoot the half-court shot at the Thunder game, he would not leave it short.

“I will at least get it to the rim,” he told them. “You have to give it a chance to go in.”

He did.

It did.

And what happened afterward last March still leaves the basketball coach and economics teacher a little misty-eyed. When people heard that his wife, Jenni, was going through treatment for stomach cancer and that the prize money from the Mid-First Bank Shot Contest would go to pay some of their medical bills, their story was picked up by everyone from Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated to CNN and Fox News.

It was an answer to a prayer.

As Jenni went through chemo for a rare form of the disease — stomach cancer affects only about a thousand Americans a year — she felt called to share her story. How she was coping. How she was staying strong.

“And she thought that was going to be kind of on a small scale at a school event that we have,” Heath said.

Instead, Jenni and Heath got to tell an audience of who knows how many millions on major cable networks and mainstream websites. The reach went all across the country and around the world, as evidenced by the donations they received from Alaska and Hong Kong.


by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
+ show more


Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Evidence of H.I.V. Found in a Child Said to Be Cured
  2. 2
    White House stands by claim that border security is stronger than ever
  3. 3
    Who is Alix Tichelman, and why was she at another high-profile businessman's fatal drug overdose?
  4. 4
    News 9: Former longtime OKC radio DJ dies Thursday
  5. 5
    KFOR: Detectives stumble upon rare extinct animals at Oklahoma ranch
+ show more