Make-A-Wish Kid's Battle Inspires Mizzou Basketball
COLUMBIA -- When it comes to the game of basketball, the best seat in the house is as close to the action as possible. A seat behind your favorite team's bench is usually for family members or by invite only. For Mizzou's November 23 game against Gardner-Webb the Cooper family was invited to be special guests of the basketball team, but earning this honor came from a hard fought battle.
"The summer before my freshman year of high school, I was playing a softball game and it started hurting when I ran so then after awhile I went to the hospital. They sent me for an MRI said I had a scratched meniscus." Boo Cooper said, "After awhile it still kept getting bigger so when I went and got x-rays and ultra sounds. It turned out I had a tumor."
On September 7, 2010, Boo was officially diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer, but it was curable with the right treatment. At the time, she was only 14-years-old and because of her age and diagnosis, she was eligible to qualify for the Make-A-Wish Foundation program.
"A couple of years ago, my child life specialist came up to me in the hospital and asked me if I had a Make-A-Wish, what would it be? Then whenever I said the Mizzou Tigers, my family did the paperwork behind my back so I didn't know about it so it was kind of a surprise," said Boo.
Boo's wish was adopted by the University of Missouri Wishmakers on Campus program. The program helps Mizzou students give back to the community while preparing them for a career. The program currently has close to 100 students involved. Throughout the school year, they have been raising money to support wishes like Boo's. The group helped welcome the Cooper family to Mizzou Arena with balloons, signs and even specially made t-shirts with the slogan "Fear the Boo."
After the family arrived at the facility on Friday, they took a guided tour of Mizzou Arena before watching the Mizzou men's basketball team practice. Following the conclusion of the practice, the team put on their own "Fear the Boo" shirts and officially welcomed Boo and her family as their guests. They signed autographs, took pictures and played some hoops with the family.
"I have to say my top three moments were when I beat Earnest Ross one on one, when I played Johnathan Williams on one on one, even though he beat me it was still pretty fun, and then probably playing knock out with the team," Boo said.
On Saturday, Boo and her family got to sit in the seats behind the Mizzou bench and watched the Tigers beat Gardner-Webb by a score of 72-63.
"I thought it was very special," said Missouri junior guard Jabari Brown. "You know Boo, she's a cool young lady and we enjoyed having her and I feel like anytime you have an opportunity to give back you should do it because people look up to you as an athlete so you know try to set a good examples as role models."
Missouri freshman forward Johnathan Williams III said, "It was a blessing to be able to hang with her and see us put a smile on her face because she looks up to us so it was just a blessing to do that."
During her visit, Boo and her family also took a tour of the campus. She is a senior in Fairfax, Missouri and is thinking about going to school at Mizzou next year to pursue a degree in Radiology Technology and Medical Imaging or possibly even Sports Therapy or Medicine. She has officially been cancer free for almost two and a half years.