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By: Alyssa Adams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Sixers may have lost to Golden State on paper Saturday night, but they won the heart of a 10-year-old from New Jersey. Ada Pickard was diagnosed with Pulmonary Hypertension, a serious condition that causes you to have high blood pressure in the arteries to your lungs, when she was just 6 years old.
There was one thing the young Sixers fan could only dream of doing – meeting a player from the Sixers.
Make-A-Wish steps in to grant children from ages two-and-a-half to 18 with critical illnesses a wish.
Ada didn’t specify what player she wanted to meet, but after mentioning wanting to see Ben Simmons dunk up close, Make-A-Wish knew he was the perfect guy.
Ada spent all last week trying to convince her parents, Kristen and Brian, to let her stay up for the Sixers game against the Warriors Saturday night.
“She wanted to stay up for the game since it was late, and we kept going back and fourth,” Kristen Pickard told Eyewitness News.
Kristen and Brian got the call Wednesday night informing them that Ada’s Make-A-Wish would be granted when the Sixers faced the Warriors.
They kept the news a secret from Ada and her siblings until Saturday when the limo service showed up. Kristen says the kids were cleaning the house at the time because they thought company was coming over for the night.
It stayed a surprise until Ada got into the limo and was handed a folder that said “Make-A-Wish” on the outside and “Ada Meets Ben Simmons” on the inside.
Beaming with excitement while heading from her Lawnside home to the Wells Fargo Center, Ada says she was a excited but a little nervous.
“Excited. Actually, [I was] a little nervous but [I’m] not sure why,” Ada said.
When Ada and her family arrived to the game, she entered a room where the Sixers’ dance team, dunk team, drummers and Franklin were forming a aisle for her to walk down – and what happened when she got to the end was exciting.
“I signed a one-day contract [with the Sixers],” Ada said.
After signing her one day deal with her favorite basketball team, Ada headed to meet the one and only Simmons.
“Yeah, he’s probably my favorite player because he gets the game pumped up and makes the game really exciting when he dunks,” Ada said.
The two chatted about her dog Pip and his dog before heading to the weight room, where she was got another surprise.
Simmons introduced Ada to Joel Embiid.
After leaving the locker room, the pair drew on a pair of yellow basketball shoes Simmons was going to sport during warm-ups.
“They were yellow because yellow is my favorite color,” Ada said.
She also had the privileged of sitting in on the team’s private pregame meeting lead by head coach Brett Brown.
“It was really cool that I actually got to do that before the game,” Ada said with excitement in her voice.
The Sixers gave Ada a personalized “Pickard” jersey and after the game they had one last surprise for her.
A representative for the team brought her the yellow sneaker that she and Simmons drew on together prior to the game.
Not only did Make-A-Wish, the Sixers and Simmons give Ada a night she will always remember, but they included her family in the special night.
“It was amazing. My own face hurt from smiling so much,” Kristen said. “Never did anyone ask her about being sick, there was something special about that. I was proud of her and thankful for the Sixers, Make-A-Wish and Ben Simmons.”