Christmas came early for a group of Mercy Home boys and girls, thanks to Chicago Bulls point guard Kris Dunn, who treated them to a surprise holiday shopping spree at the Adidas store at Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue.
Prior to the event, 25 unsuspecting kids gathered for a pizza party at the boys’ campus and were told only one thing: they were going to meet Dunn at an undisclosed location.
“These kids were chosen to attend because they are doing well in school and/or at work, are focused on their goals, and are highly engaged and active in their treatment here at Mercy Home for Boys & Girls,” said Amy Schulz, Director of Walsh Campus Programs, who also helped organize the event. “We are so proud of their accomplishments.”
The group then boarded a school bus, which whisked them away to the Magnificent Mile shopping center. Upon entering the Adidas store, the anxious group huddled together, nervously speculating on what was about to happen.
As camera’s flashed, Dunn strode into the store and wasted no time on revealing the night’s surprise: personal gift cards for each kid. The dropped jaws of our stunned boys and girls soon turned into ear-to-ear smiles, as waves of excitement rippled throughout the store and the kids fanned out to make their selections.
“This was really unexpected,” said Nikki, of Walgreen Home. “I was shocked.”
“For a while, I wasn’t focused on myself and what I was going to buy. I just looked around, at all the others being so excited and running around,” said Angel, of Campbell Home. “Then I snapped back and looked at myself and I felt very grateful. I’ve never really had these kinds of opportunities. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime type experience.”
Like many of our kids at Mercy Home, Dunn had a challenging upbringing: his dad lived out of state and his mom was often in jail. If anything, he’s walked a few miles in our kids’ shoes.
“I understand what they’re going through,” Dunn told ABC7 news. “If you’re not in their situation, it’s kind of hard to understand what they go through each and every day. I just tried to do something to lift their spirits.”
Mercy Home continues to mend the worn souls of kids in crisis, as we’ve done for over 130 years. Recognizing himself in many of our children, Dunn crouched down to help our kids out of their other worn soles and into a new pair of shoes – ready for a fresh start.
As our giddy boys and girls selected outfits, shoes, and other Adidas apparel, gratitude soon opened the door to generosity. In the true spirit of giving, many kids chose to use their gift certificates to buy Christmas presents for family members and loved ones.
“I got a pair of joggers for my sister and a Chicago Blackhawks shirt for my brother,” said Nikki, who also picked up a new pair of shoes for herself.
“I started thinking about my family and remembered my dad was in need of a new pair of sandals, so I got him a pair,” said Clemente, who also purchased items he needed: warm clothes, gloves, shoes, and a backpack.
With her arms full of clothes and Christmas gifts, Nikki was overwhelmed with gratitude for Kris Dunn and the Chicago Bulls. Even though she doesn’t personally know anyone in the Bulls organization, Nikki said she feels like the team and its representatives are her biggest fans.
“Not only are the Chicago Bulls one of the most popular teams, they really do act from the center of the heart,” Nikki said. “All their hard work as a team and organization really gets down to one important thing in the world: they really dedicate their time to giving back to the community. That’s really noble, and such a great quality.”
The morning after the shopping spree, Clemente admitted that he woke up in the middle of the night and checked his closet to see if his new Adidas apparel was still where he left it.
“I thought it was dream,” he said. “I wanted to make sure it wasn’t.”
Thank you so much to Kris Dunn, the Chicago Bulls, and Adidas, not only for their generosity but for inspiring our kids to be humble recipients and gracious enough to think of others during moments of great fortune.