Andrea Decker said she can't thank the team enough for embracing her daughter during a time of hardship.
“Not only was Lorelei touched by the Thunder, but I think they were actually touched by her,” she said. “They saw in her a reminder that this is about something bigger than basketball — they have a chance to impact a lot of lives, and one of them is this little girl who is also impacting lives they may never be able to touch.”
Also new to the Thunder extended family this year: Shelia Turner, grandmother of five, who received a free home renovation at the hands of several players in April; Tyler Ryan, who received the Devon Community Hero Award in January for saving the life of a stranger last year and losing a leg in the process.
“It helps you keep your spirits up and stuff,” Ryan said. “The most moving part about it was when everybody in the stands stood up and clapped. It was really crazy that so many people care.”
It's because the Thunder — the organization and its players — represents more than a team sport and entertainment option, said Dan Mahoney, the team's vice president for communications and community relations.
Being a good community asset carries with it a certain sense of responsibility, Mahoney said.
And if you think it's all about publicity, you're wrong. When Reggie Jackson visited Bricktown shooting victim Norman Richards II in his hospital room earlier this month, no cameras or reporters came along.
“It's a prime commitment for us, for the Thunder, to give back every chance we get,” Mahoney said. “So we did reach out to him and his family just to show our support, just to show that we're with them and will do what we can to drive his spirits up to recover.”