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UNG and Make-A-Wish surprise girl and her family

Five-year-old Hope Nix from Dahlonega, Georgia, and her family were surprised with a trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The surprise gift was organized as part of a Make-A-Wish reveal coordinated with UNG Athletics. UNG earned the privilege to host the surprise for Hope and her family after raising more than $10,000 this year to help grant at least one wish.

As the starting lineup for the University of North Georgia women's basketball team was introduced, one 5-year-old girl near the team's bench waited with her family for her name to be called.

"Let's give a warm welcome … to Miss Hope Nix!"

Cheers and applause swelled as Hope became the "sixth member of the lineup" for the Feb. 13 game. Situated in her stroller and flanked by her three older sisters, Hope went through the team tunnel and joined basketball players for a final cheer before the game started.

This scene was one of many memorable moments for Nix and her family. Earlier in the afternoon, she signed a one-day contract with the women's basketball team, which was organized as part of the Make-A-Wish reveal coordinated with UNG Athletics.

Hope was selected as a Make-A-Wish recipient this year. The nonprofit organization arranges experiences described as "wishes" to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Hope has aicardi syndrome, which is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the absence of a bridge connecting two sections of the brain.

UNG earned the privilege of hosting the Make-A-Wish reveal for Hope and her family after raising more than $10,000 this year to help grant at least one wish. Hope's wish and more was granted.


Along with meeting the UNG women's basketball team and watching the players warm up, she and her family had courtside seats to the game. Hope was also the star of the halftime show when three fairy princesses arrived to deliver her wish: a trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

After the game, Hope was assigned her own locker in the women's basketball locker room and a signed basketball from the team. She and her family then had dinner in a room fit for a princess, including a child-size castle for Hope and her sisters.

"It's been amazing," said Hope's mother, Lenore. "There are not enough thank-you notes in the world to thank everyone for this experience."

Lindsay Reeves, director of athletics at UNG, said holding a Make-A-Wish reveal on the campus has helped the student-athletes learn and value the importance of giving back to the community. She said they also connect with the children who benefit from their fundraising efforts.

"Of all of our reveals, we have stayed in touch with all of the families," Reeves said. "We tell them that they are a part of Nighthawk Nation forever. It remains true to this day. They will always be family."

This marks the seventh consecutive Make-A-Wish reveal UNG has hosted. UNG has earned the right to host Make-A-Wish reveals thanks to UNG's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee's (SAAC) fundraisers. The university has raised at least $10,000 every year since 2010-2011, totaling more than $164,000 and equaling 16 wishes being granted.

The Nighthawk Nation will continue its fundraising efforts for Make-A-Wish for this academic year until April, said Lee Glenn, associate athletic director for external operations.

"UNG's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee raises money through with annual events such as a 'Run with Nigel' and through other general donations throughout the year," Glenn said.

The next fundraiser will be Nigel's Run with Superheroes at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, on UNG's promenade across from Memorial Hall on the Dahlonega Campus. Registration is $15 for adults and $10 for children. Other donations are also accepted online.

For more information, visit UNG's Make-A-Wish Initiative website.

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