UofL Cards give priceless Christmas gift to Louisville children - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

UofL Cards give priceless Christmas gift to Louisville children

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Just like Santa, Pitino and his reigning National Champs arrived in red and black, ready to make Christmas wishes come true for 25 lucky children chosen from Louisville elementary schools. Just like Santa, Pitino and his reigning National Champs arrived in red and black, ready to make Christmas wishes come true for 25 lucky children chosen from Louisville elementary schools.
Rick Pitino Rick Pitino
Chane Behanan shopping with Dylan, 11. Chane Behanan shopping with Dylan, 11.
Russ Smith Russ Smith
Wayne Blackshear Wayne Blackshear

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Cardinals get back to the hardwood on Saturday, but Thursday night they changed out of their practice clothes to become some very tall elves.

"You always hear the old adage about giving and receiving," said University of Louisville Cardinals Head Basketball Coach Rick Pitino,"for our players, we always talk about that."

Just like Santa, Pitino and his reigning National Champs arrived in red and black, ready to make Christmas wishes come true for 25 lucky children chosen from Louisville elementary schools.

This night, the Meijer store on South Hurstbourne Parkway became the North Pole and the large elves were a big thrill to the young Louisville fans. As the kids shopped with the Cards and Ladybirds, it was hard to figure who was enjoying it more.

This team of Santa's helpers relates much more to this group of children than most of us realize. Pitino explained, "You know, really our guys grew up with very little so, it's great for them to give," he said, "They can picture themselves being their (the kids) age and pushing that cart with them."

Forward Chane Behanan shopped with 11-year-old Dylan. "I love to do it and I wish it was me when I was little doing it," Behanan said with a smile.

"When I was younger I wish I had somebody to do that with me," Senior Guard Russ Smith said of the Christmas shopping, "I kind of waited and waited and I got a sweater and might have gotten some socks, but to come out with basketball players that play for a University and to put a smile on his face, I'm having a ball!"

What did Smith's young shopper Camari think of him? "He's just the best," the 7-year-old said.

That's as good as it gets, then again, Wayne Blackshear's 11-year-old die-hard Card fan Logan can do one better. "It's the best Christmas ever," Logan said.  Blackshear said, "For us to get the opportunity to be in a position that we're in and for kids to look up to us and to take them shopping," he said, "It's a blessing for me."

"It's actually unbelievable," said Janell Wildt, the mother of two young shoppers. For parents like Wildt this shopping gift means much more than presents she can't afford.

"They're having an amazing time," Wildt said of her kids, "They're meeting all the players and I never thought that anybody would actually reach their hand out to families that actually needed it," she cried, "I'm relieved that my kids will have a Christmas."

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