In perhaps the most touching story of the holiday season, Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki visited Children’s Medical Center in Dallas and brought LOADS of Christmas cheer to kids fighting for their lives. Even more incredible, the athlete has been making his appearances as ‘Uncle Dirk’ for over a decade now, and hospital staff say there’s NO ONE better at playing Santa!
Embodying the true meaning of Christmas, NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, 38, visits Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas every year, and never fails to provide a bright light in the lives of the sick kids he sees. But while almost every player in the NBA donates his time, and possibly even money, to a charitable cause he believes in, teams send out press releases touting the charitable activity or donation. Not for Dirk though.
In fact, Dirk visits sick kids all on his own — even personally arranging his yearly visits with the hospital’s director of child life and social work. And above all, he doesn’t publicize it in any way. The Mavericks player, who goes by the moniker “Uncle Dirk,” only has one goal — to make the children he sees smile.
This year, however, Dirk “relentlessly” allowed the Dallas Morning News to shadow him during his visit. He had just one request: that the story be about the “courageous” kids, their “amazing” families and the “incredible” doctors and nurses. “It’s rough sometimes,” Dirk told the publication. “It’s frustrating at times. You’re speechless at times. But this is always my favorite appearance of the year. It means a lot to the kids and the parents and, obviously, to me.”
Theresa Belcher, who arranges Dirk’s visits, says the athlete usually visits 18 to 20 patients, with some added at the last minute. Before he enters a room, the basketball player likes to know the child’s name as well as their interests. He always brings a gift too — everything from dolls to iPads, Beats headphones, drones, and more. “He has the ability to connect with kids on every level, whether they are a toddler or school-age kid or teenager,” Theresa said. “It’s quite amazing.
Another amazing thing — Dirk doesn’t care how long he’s there, he’ll stay however long it takes. Hospital staff revealed that he never even glances at his phone or asks for the time. “We see all the stars and athletes that come in here. He’s by far the best,” Glenn Timmons said, a Children’s security guard of 31 years who has accompanied Uncle Dirk on all of his trips.
“This is the best day of the year for all of us,” Keri Kaiser, Children’s Medical Center’s senior vice president of marketing and communications told the media outlet. “To me, this is a privilege, to watch him do this every year, seeing how much joy he brings. I don’t want to offend any of the other athletes in the city, but no one else does this. There is no publicity. There’s no talking about it. And he is dedicated to it.”
Dirk has three young children of his own with wife Jessica Olsson, whom he’s been married to since 2012. “Having three healthy kids, I’m thankful and blessed,” the professional athlete who has led the Mavericks to 15 NBA Playoffs said. “I know that a lot of families are not as blessed and not as fortunate at times. You just try to help wherever you can. I used to think 24 hours a day of basketball. Now it’s also other things. I guess you just move on and grow in life.”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers — is this a touching story, or what? Is Dirk officially your favorite Santa this year?