Through the Diamond State Classic’s partnership with the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation, which helps raise money for pediatric cancer patients, the [Pickerington High School Central girls basketball] Tigers were paired with 9-year-old Danny Feltwell, a survivor of T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma — a rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma — from Margate, New Jersey.
Feltwell sat on the bench during Central’s 48-45 win over Belmar (New Jersey) St. Rose in the first round Dec. 27, joining in huddles, talking to players and otherwise rooting the Tigers on as they erased a 13-point deficit. Junior guard Maliya Perry’s 3-pointer as time expired gave Central the win and sent everybody into celebration, including Feltwell.
“We got attached to him really fast,” said Luther, a senior forward who called Feltwell “a trivia machine” because he had Central players pick a sport for which he devised a trivia question. “I didn’t know how it would work at first, but it was great meeting up with him. He was cheering loud and he’d stand up and put three fingers in the air every time somebody would shoot a 3. The coaches would talk to him about the scouting report and he’d predict our scores.”
The Tigers put a B+ shirt on Feltwell’s seat during their next two games, an 81-58 win over Hockessin (Delaware) Sanford School on Dec. 29 and a 59-47 victory over Santa Ana (California) Mater Dei 59-47 in the championship game Dec. 30.
Central had to catch a bus back home immediately after the final, but sent the championship trophy, a basketball and a net to Feltwell in the hospital.
Less than two weeks later, on Jan. 10, his cancer again was declared to be in remission.
Luther and Whitehead, among other players, have kept in touch with Feltwell via text, and all of them now write ”#DANNY” on their wrists for games. Hedgepeth facilitated Facetime sessions with Central graduates Taco Charlton and Roger Lewis, who play in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, respectively — NFC East Division rivals of Feltwell’s favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles.