Imagine winning a thousand dollars just a week ahead of Christmas.
Would you buy a gift for a friend or family member? Splurge on yourself? Pay some bills?
After McKenzie Casey of Sugar Creek, Mo., made the Thousand Dollar Shot at the Missouri Mavericks game last Friday, she didn’t think twice about what to do with the windfall.
She is donating it to Free To Breathe, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting lung cancer. All of it.
It’s a cause that is dear to Casey’s heart, because her mom, Carmen, passed away last year on Thanksgiving day after battling the terrible disease.
“It funds research to lung cancer, so I’m going to donate all of it,” Casey said. “I wanted to do something that goes for research.”
Casey is the first person to win the $1,000 prize at a Mavericks game. It required making a shot from the far blue line, which is 114 feet away from the goal.
But that shot wasn’t Casey’s first concern when her name was called at the game, which she attended with her fiance, Devin Fields. Casey had been on the ice before, but only along the edges when she walked to the bench.
Casey turned to Fields and said: “Devin, I don’t know if I can do this. I can’t stand in the middle of the ice, especially if there is nothing to hold on to.”
Despite those fears, Casey made it to the blue line. When it came time to take the shot, Casey admitted she was winging it. But she also asked for divine intervention.
“Mom,” Casey said, “I hope you’re with me and help me do this.”
When she stepped up to take the shot, Casey ... missed the puck. She swung the stick like a golf club, but one of the Mavericks’ photographers offered a tip.
“He told me ‘No, don’t swing it like that. Kind of glide it on the ice,’ ” Casey recalled. “Well, it went on the ice and it was going really left and it wasn’t going in. Then it hit like a bump and it went on its side and rolled in like a bowling ball.”
Casey is convinced that bump was mom helping out.
“She was definitely with me that day and I dedicated that shot to her,” Casey said. “It’s been a rough time and I knew she was with me during it.”
Casey and Fields are Mavericks season-ticket holders and they were engaged at a previous game. She often enters contests at the games but had been shut out before Friday.
“I never win anything. I always try to do a drawing to win a jersey and I never win anything,” Casey said. “I think I’m more shocked that I made (the shot) than I got the money.”
In addition to the big check, the Mavericks gave Casey the puck, the one she is certain her mom helped find the back of the net, winning Casey a thousand dollars. She hopes the donation eventually will lead to a cure for lung cancer, because no one should have to face that fight. And hopefully one day, no family will feel the pain Casey and her father have endured since her mother’s death.
Casey said Friday night was even more special because of the Mavericks’ theme for the game: Childhood Cancer Awareness Night. How great is that?
While Casey will keep the memory of that night forever, she also has something else to help her remember that special shot.
“Oh,” Casey said, “I’m keeping the puck.”