From the Garden

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At the Garden in Boston, I received a standing ovation from all 19,000 fans as I was recognized as a “Hero Among Us”. Wow! What a breath-taking experience! Being out on center court, taking it all in was a fabulous experience. I had the opportunity to share my athletic successes as well as the things in life I am most passionate about with the world! The last time I experienced a crowd that big and that welcoming was in Beijing in 2008 at the Bird’s Nest. It brought back some wonderful memories and created some new ones too! The Heroes are selected by the Boston Celtics from a number of different sources, with local media being the most prominent. They also get nominations from season ticket holders, staff members, media members, non-profit organizations, former Heroes, and those familiar with the program.

So how did it all go down? Earlier in the day, I did some local school visits to help educate about disability sport and to share my story. It was one of those days where you don’t have a single moment of downtime, so much so that I even received a text message from someone reminding me to pause and take a breath! I went to the gym, worked out, showered and headed off to the first school, a group of second graders. En route from one school to the other, I had a conference call about my website-redesign project—just maximizing use of time here! And then, I finished my day playing with the kids at recess at the next school followed by a presentation to the 5th graders. And then it was time for the main event! My brother graciously drove me into the city where I checked into the hotel and did take a moment to just relax a little bit before the next set of festivities.

A car service came and picked me up at my hotel, all donated by local season ticket holders, and brought my guests and I to the HQ for the Celtics. There, I was met by the Community Relations Manager who gave us a run down of the events for the evening and a tour of the facility. I shared this experience with three amazingly wonderful friends and supporters of mine. We then walked over to the Garden.

Approximately ten minutes before tip-off, I was escorted to half-court, where a photo is taken with a representative from both teams. I have to say, being in a wheelchair next to two NBA players… I’ve never felt so short!!!! I mean, these guys look big on TV but in real life, oh boy, was I short!
Anjali at Celtics center court

Just before the start of the second quarter, I was escorted back to the main floor to await for the second timeout of the quarter. This was quite the exciting quarter to have this happen too. The first jump shot was made in this quarter by Boston, so they were up 34-27. The Warriors come back with a layup followed by the first timeout. During this timeout Ray Allen enters the court. Then, the game really picks up the pace and there’s tons of action on the court, the next thing you know Boston is up 48-41. Jeff Green makes a dunk shot followed by a 3-pointer from Ray Allen, and I’m watching all of this directly next to the Celtics’ basket on the court!!! Time out.

During the second time-out of the second quarter, I was escorted back to center court. At this time, with me in the spotlight, an announcement is read to the audience that introduces the Hero Among Us program and a bit about me and my accomplishments.

Anjali receiving Hero Among Us Award
I got a standing ovation from the crowd. It was a huge honor to be recognized for my athletic accomplishments and for the outreach projects that I’m involved in—my coloring book, my work overseas and just all of the things that make me me. After the ceremony I went back to watch the rest of the game with my friends.

It meant a lot to me all of those who were there supporting me at the game itself, those tuning in on TV who caught the brief clip on the post-game show and those who have since shared in the excitement through seeing the video clip, news article and/or Facebook postings about the night! Thanks for sharing in all the excitement with me!

I do what I do because I love it; not because somebody else makes me or wants me to, but because it’s who I am. It fills me up with happiness to read all the comments from you all, reconnecting with folks from the past who have been following me. Honestly though, when I hear how much you all say that I make you proud, I am left asking myself, “really? Me?” Because to me, I’m just leading my life doing what I love. Nonetheless, thanks…but now I challenge you all to do whatever it is you love too and create your own spectacular memories such as this one.

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