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Road-tested Lions visit Gonzaga

Out of town for several hours last night, slept in this morning and woke up with the realization I forgot to post my short advance of the Gonzaga-LMU game. All I can say is: My fault for not getting this post up sooner.

Here's a quick look at the Lions. It'll be interesting to see if GU can summon the emotion and intensity it had for 40 minutes in Thursday's win over Saint Mary's against a confident LMU squad.

In the preview I mention that a $681,000 check from Mark and Marcy Few's Coaches vs. Cancer event last summer will be presented to the American Cancer Society. This will not be the normal check-passing ceremony you've seen dozens of times on the evening news.

The check will be accepted on behalf of the ACS by Jo Lynn Chastain, mother of 11-year-old Brandon Bird, the avid Zags fan who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. GU players and staff visited Bird in the hospital prior to Thanksgiving and he visited practice in mid-December. While the team watched video in the locker room and Brandon took pictures at center court, I spoke to Jo Lynn for a few minutes about Brandon's journey and came away floored by her and her son's courage, and I just about lost it (my daughter had undergone surgery the day before).

I'm told Brandon still communicates with the team and continues to follow the Zags despite his failing health. Below, I posted my short article on Brandon from Dec. 15th. I'm hoping the check-passing ovation is the loudest of the day.


SPECIAL VISITOR AT PRACTICE

Gonzaga had a special visitor at Tuesday's practice in 11-year-old Brandon Bird, a two-time cancer survivor who is battling a third recurrence.

Head coach Mark Few quickly made his way over to talk to Brandon and was soon followed by players and assistant coaches.

Brandon gave the team an autographed GU hat and a framed picture from when the players visited him on the day after Thanksgiving. The following day, Brandon was courtside at the Spokane Arena for the Ronald McDonald House Charities Classic, where he bumped fists with GU forward Elias Harris.

“Rob (Sacre, GU center) and Brandon had a great conversation about 'Star Wars' and their favorite characters because he's a big fan,” Brandon's mom, Jo Lynn, said. “They've all been great. They say, 'Hi,' to him and he says, 'They're my friends.'”

While the team was in the locker room watching video, Brandon was having his picture taken at center court.

“He got a Gonzaga blanket for an early Christmas present and he uses it every day,” Jo Lynn said.

“He couldn't see it, but he felt the embroidery and knew right away what it was. He's completely blind now and he still knew, so it was kind of neat.”

  


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Jim Allen Sports reporter Jim Allen's primary coverage areas are Eastern Washington University football and men's basketball, and college and high school soccer. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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Jim Meehan Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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