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Warriors fan with nervous system disorder gets his wish: A backyard basketball court

It’s Giving Tuesday, a day when people around the globe are encouraged to give back to their community.

The nonprofit Giving Tuesday says on this day last year, people in the U.S. raised $3.1 billion for nonprofits and causes.

On this Giving Tuesday, we’re highlighting what those contributions can mean for local families through the story of a Daly City teenager whose wish for a backyard basketball court came true.

In 16-year-old Isaiah Dungo’s backyard in Daly City, you can often hear him dribbling the ball across the pavement. For Isaiah, the sound of the basketball on the cement is the sound of freedom. To his family members, the sound is a welcome peace of mind.

Isaiah lives with several conditions, including epilepsy and cerebral palsy, which weakens the muscles on his right side.

“He’s just been in and out of hospitals, countless doctor visits,” explained Isaiah’s mom Kim Mendoza-Dungo. “He manages medications and adaptive work daily. It’s a lot for a child to carry.”

Kim said that while other sports were tough for Isaiah, basketball clicked for him because he could make shots with one hand.

He loves the Warriors. He just loves the sport,” Kim noted.

Isaiah is a lifelong Golden State Warriors fan, and Steph Curry is his favorite player.

But as Isaiah got older, he grew afraid of getting injured or having a seizure in front of his peers.

So he just stopped playing. And it was devastating for him and for us,” Kim recalled.

Isaiah’s family applied for and was selected to have a wish granted through Make-A-Wish of the Greater Bay Area, a local chapter of the nonprofit that fulfills the dreams of children with critical illnesses.

Isaiah wished for a basketball court in his own backyard where he could play free from judgment and near his family’s watchful eye.

After months of planning and preparations, crews laid down concrete, installed the hoop and painted a design on the court just for Isaiah.

The court’s design features green polka dots, which represent cerebral palsy, and purple polka dots that represent epilepsy, Isaiah said. The design also features a yellow Bay Bridge outline on a navy blue background to represent the Warriors. 

“It just felt really special just to see my favorite basketball team logo there,” Isaish said. “When they all finished, I was just shocked.”

Isaiah Dungo (center) of Daly City stands with his family members on the basketball court gifted to him by Make-A-Wish. Photo Courtesy: Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area.

The court was installed in the fall of 2022. Since then, Isaiah can be found most days out on his court.

Since the installation, his mom says Isaiah is gaining confidence and starting to play basketball at school again.  

“Kids like Isaiah who manage these chronic health conditions, they have hard lives, they have very stressful lives, and they don’t deserve it, but they power through,” Kim noted.

There’s a host of deserving organizations that need support year-round. Giving Tuesday is a great time to start.

Kim knows firsthand the difference you can make.

“I want people to know that when they make a donation to Make-A-Wish, they really have the opportunity to make something very special for a well-deserving child,” Kim emphasized.

In the backyard, Isaiah loves shooting hoops with his dad.

Sometimes, Isaiah plays by himself, too, and the court grants him a bit of independence.

The sound of the ball hitting the pavement echoes into the house, assuring Isaiah’s family that he’s doing alright.

Isaiah says his 3-point shot keeps getting better and better.

“I was really proud that I made that wish,” Isaiah said. “And I really enjoy playing basketball again.”  

Source: NBC Bay Area

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