“When we walk out the doors of this hospital at the end of the day, and we’ve seen these kids smile, because of people like you visiting and spending time with them, that’s how we can look up at the scoreboard and say we won today. We won today!” Karim Thomas Sadak, MD, MPH, MSE Hematologist/Oncologist at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital looks up at the hospital’s guests- Matisse Thybulle, Ja Morant, Grant Williams and Zion Williamson.

The four NCAA® basketball players and Naismith Trophy finalists were about to visit patients and their families. Thybulle, who plays for the University of Washington and was awarded the 2019 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award, Morant who plays for Murray State, Tennessee basketball’s Williams and Duke’s Williamson who was named the Naismith College Player of the Year were all in town for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Games.

“I am a childhood cancer doctor. That’s what my job is, it’s to get these kids and their families from maybe one of the toughest days they could ever imagine, to what we call our one shining moment when we can tell that mom, or dad or caregiver and that child – you are cured,” said Sadak. “And it all starts with the research.”

The players and Sadak, who is the Director of the Childhood Cancer Survivor Program and also an Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota Medical School and a Masonic Cancer Center member, were joined Saturday, April 6, 2019, by members of the American Cancer Society (ACS), which helps raise funds for cancer research. Institutional research grants average $120,000 per year, for 3 years, and are designated towards a specific institution.

“So what you guys do off the court to help those efforts, to help those causes, are what help us get that ‘W’, because like I said, we measure our wins and losses in smiles,” Sadak said on Saturday.

Sadak, Thybulle, Morant, Williams, and Williamson spent the rest of their morning visiting and bringing smiles to the patients and families at Masonic Children’s.