This is the third weekly installment in the "Top 30 Moments" feature to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the East Coast Conference.
The East Coast Conference and NCAA Division II have a long history of supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses. NCAA Division II schools and conferences have raised nearly $6 million and granted almost 700 wishes since establishing a partnership with the foundation in 2003. As for the ECC, through efforts that include the conference's annual Spirit Showcase, over $35,000 has been raised for Make-A-Wish over the past 10 years.
Division II schools and conferences that reach a certain fundraising mark become eligible to host wish reveals, a surprise celebration gifting a wish to a Make-A-Wish child usually held on campus during a game.
In the 2014-15 academic year, the ECC became the first NCAA Division II conference office to raise over $7,000 in a year ($7,495). By crossing this threshold, the league became the first-ever to qualify to host a wish reveal.
The ECC chose to host its wish reveal at the league's 2016 Men's and Women's Basketball Championship, that year held at University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. Kyle, a 17 year old from Maryland, with a heart condition that required a heart transplant, was the recipient of a wish to learn to surf in Hawaii.
"The ECC is so proud to have been a big part of the NCAA DII Make-A-Wish initiative for so many years," said ECC Commissioner, Dr. Robert Dranoff in 2016. "We are truly honored to have the chance to host this send off party for Kyle to help let him know he has lots of friends and supporters in the D.C. area."
Kyle was introduced to the crowd at halftime of the women's championship game and was welcomed by fans and UDC student-athletes wearing leis and holding signs that read, "Aloha Kyle" and "Surf's Up Kyle." Kyle and his family then had a chance to address the crowd and thank the Make-A-Wish celebration.
The ECC also surprised Kyle with a gift bag full of apparel from the conference and member schools that participated in the tournament. Participating teams recorded a video to send him off on his trip, as well.
To view a photo album from the wish reveal, click here.