Dwyane Wade said he didn’t expect the kind of reaction he got Wednesday when he walked in the hallways at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Students took pictures with the Heat superstar and cheered him on as he arrived before he later sat down with several of them to commend them on their activism in the wake of the mass shooting that took place at the school on Feb. 14.
“You might think I’m lying, but I’m being truthful. I didn’t expect that kind of reaction,” Wade said. “I knew it was a tough day for them going back to their first full day. I definitely wanted to bring an element of surprise, an element of joy. The reaction was unbelievable. It was great to see, it was great to feel, it was great to feel that energy, the vibe that carried them throughout the whole day and carried me for the rest of the day as well. It was just a good day for them and for me as well to have just a moment of face time with them, a few little words, encouragement. I talked to different groups while I was there in different settings. It was cool. I’m glad that I did it.”
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Wade offered his support and said he met with school leaders about their next steps in trying to influence change and awareness.
“I went there with two things in mind,” Wade said. “One is to bring a moment of joy knowing it was there first full day back at school, knowing it was going to be a tough day for a lot of kids. The second thing was to sit down with the leaders of the school and kind of talk to them. What’s the next steps? What are they trying to accomplish? What are they trying to do and as an individual how can I be involved to help them?
“I got an opportunity to sit down and talk about a lot of great things they’re doing, a lot of plans they have for the future that I’m excited about getting behind and supporting them.”
Last week, Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra and players Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow, Udonis Haslem and his wife, Faith, as well as representatives from the Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins and Florida Panthers, met with the families of five people who were wounded in the massacre.
“It just gives you goosebumps,” Spoelstra said. “We were up there last week. Dwyane went up there yesterday, and what an incredible day. The takeaway that he had from it was how inspiring these young men and women are, to make sure that their voices get heard, to be able to specifically force change. And it’s not going to be easy. But the resiliency of the kids up in Parkland really, truly is remarkable.
“It’s inspiring. It’s a call to action for all of us and we’re honored to be just a small part of it, to support them and hopefully give them all a much bigger megaphone. We can help with that, but what bigger megaphone can you have than Dwyane Wade going down there and allowing their voices to be heard so many other places? That’s powerful.”
Wade didn’t get into specifics as to what he and Douglas students discussed, but one topic was organizing the “March For Our Lives” in Washington that is planned for March 24 — something Wade regrets he might not be able to attend because of the Heat’s schedule. Miami is off that day, but plays at Oklahoma City on March 23 and at Indiana on March 25.
“They are well-prepared and well aware of what they need to do and what they want to do and the change they want to see,” Wade said. “It’s great. It’s great to hear. It’s great to see that, because I come from a community in Chicago where our youth are getting killed daily and don’t have the same voice, don't have the same light on them that Parkland has. These kids understand what they have and they’re taking other kids with them. So they’ve met with Chicago. They’ve met with the kids from the inner city of Chicago and trying to see how they can team up and do things. They’re just on top of it. It was very impressive to be in the room, sitting there with these young future leaders. They definitely taught me some things that I didn’t know. So they are very impressive.”
Wade dedicated the rest of this season to Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, a 14-year-old who was one of the 17 killed in the shooting. Oliver was later buried in his Wade jersey. Wade hosted Oliver’s family at last Saturday’s game at AmericanAirlines Arena and has played with Oliver’s name on his sneakers ever since finding out about him.