Dwyane Wade and members from his Wade’s World Foundation had a busy Saturday.
Working with the Bulls’ community services department in the morning, they went into a home of an underprivileged family and fully refurnished it and left gifts.
“They didn’t know (at first) I was there, so it was pretty cool,” Wade said.
In the afternoon, Wade furthered his “Spotlight On …” initiative that his foundation has made a staple of home games, surprising 100 teenagers at an after school program and encouraging them to work to remedy the city’s violence with positive examples of success.
But Wade’s final stop offered the most poignancy.
Surprising families who have lost parents to the city’s gun violence, Wade appeared at Dylan’s Candy Bar on Michigan Avenue alongside his aunt, Diann Aldridge. She’s the mother of Nykea, the 32-year-old cousin of Wade who was killed in the Parkway Gardens neighborhood in August when she was caught innocently in crossfire while pushing her infant child in a stroller.
Police arrested Darwin Sorrells Jr. and Derren Sorrells and charged both with first-degree murder in the incident that drew national headlines.
“She still gets emotional. But she’s in great spirits because she’s around family and everyone is pulling together to try to make it as easy on her and the kids as possible,” Wade said. “It’s not anything that someone gets over, probably ever. But to have her involved and try to help other families, those things help her. She’s able to communicate and talk to others who know what she’s going through.”
Indeed, amid gift-giving and a candy-buying spree for the families with young children, Aldridge offered words stressing peace and love of family.
“One of the things she said that struck me is at the end of the night is when it’s at its worst, when everyone is gone and it’s just her to her thoughts,” Wade said. “We just try to shed as much positivity into her life and her kids’ lives.”
Wade’s World Foundation always had impact and reach in Chicago, even when he played for the Heat. But this marked the first time he held his annual “3 Under the Tree” holiday event locally.
“You can go touch places a little bit more. You hear about the need in the community a little bit more,” Wade said of the impact signing with the Bulls has had on his local charitable efforts. “But it always has been special to me being from Chicago. You always want to take care of the people who take care of you.”
As for the “Spotlight On …” initiative, the lights go out in the United Center at most home games and a spotlight shines on a local teenager making a positive impact in the community. Wade narrates the teen’s accomplishments.
“There has been so much negativity talked about in Chicago. It’s very publicized worldwide about the killings,” Wade said. “But there are so many positive things going on in our city as well. And our kids need to hear that more, to see that more.”