Last Sunday, a particular Bison fan experienced something special before tip-off in Springfield, Illinois.
Grace Herschelman and her parents, Kyle and Mary, were invited by North Dakota State’s men’s basketball sports information director Wes Offerman to meet the team before the game against the Fighting Illini.
Grace, a 3-year-old, was diagnosed last November with an extremely rare disease called Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy. The degenerative disorder affects Grace’s nervous system.
Kyle Herschelman is the sports editor at The Journal-News in Hillsboro, and Bison freshman Dylan Miller is from the same town. Herschelman covered Miller all throughout his high school career.
He documented the evening in his blog called “A Grace Filled Journey.” The blog is a compilation of experiences Grace has had since her INAD diagnosis.
About 45 minutes before the game, the Herschelman family met up with Richman, and was soon introduced to the team.
“Grace had a relationship with Dylan Miller from back in his high school days,” head coach Dave Richman said, “It was really special to meet her.”
He added, “She has a tremendous smile.”
According to Herschelman’s blog, Grace was introduced to the players and with the help of her mom she was able to give them each a pre-game high five.
“It made me feel good to be a part of her life and give her a great experience,” freshman guard Khy Kabellis said about meeting Grace.
Miller saw the court for the last two minutes of the first half against UI, but that was enough for his three biggest fans.
And it was Grace’s first college basketball game.
“I think it was a great experience for her,” Miller said, “I just enjoyed it.”
Sophomore guard Paul Miller said it really put everything into perspective.
“It was great,” Miller said. “That’s what college basketball is all about, relating with the fans and making a little girl’s day; it was just amazing.”
Herschelman took to his blog to comment on the experience saying, “Sometimes God brings special people into our lives that help make the hard times a little easier to manage by giving us good times that are beyond measure.”
Herschelman added, “Thanks to Wes Offerman, Coach Richman, Dylan Miller and the entire Bison Family for being those people.”