Famed Chicagoan Dwyane Wade visited students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday. Wade, who was raised in Englewood and played football and basketball at Harold L. Richards High School in Oak Lawn, thanked and applauded the school’s pupils for their efforts as gun-control activists. Nikolas Cruz used an AR-15 semi-automatic style rifle to murder 17 people and injure another 15 individuals at this campus on February 14. One of Cruz’s victims, Joaquin Oliver, was buried wearing Wade’s No. 3 Miami Heat jersey. Wade’s dedicated the remainder of this season to Oliver and he wears high-top sneakers with his name written on them.
“I just wanted to come here today and hopefully for a moment, for a second, bring a little excitement, bring a little joy,” said Wade, 36, a major proponent of gun control who tithes 10 percent of his salary to a local church.
“What you guys have been going through and how resilient you have been has been amazing from afar. I just wanted to come and say I’m inspired by you. As someone out here in the public eye, I’m proud to say I’m from this state, because of you guys, because of the future of this world, because of you guys.”
As part of nationwide rallies, student activists have assembled in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and at the state’s Capitol in Tallahassee. A national school walkout is scheduled to occur on Friday, April 20. This date was chosen because it marks the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
“On Friday, April 20th we want students to attend school and then promptly WALK-OUT at 10:00 am. Sit outside your schools and peacefully protest. Make some noise. Voice your thoughts. We are students, we are victims, we are change,” tweeted walkout organizers.
Wade’s appearance shocked and overjoyed students and faculty members.
“Much appreciation goes out to Dwyane Wade for visiting our school and showing his support,” tweeted senior Ryan Deitsch. “Changing the world, one dribble at a time.”
Broward County Public School Board member Dr. Rosalind Osgood raved about the future first-ballot Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer.
“It was phenomenal to our school family today to have a fresh breath of air and Dwayne Wade, who is way more than just an awesome basketball player,” Osgood told Local 10 News in Miami.
“He’s a great person, a humanitarian. He took so much time talking to our children, talking to them about his life growing up in Chicago with a lot of gun violence, listening to them as they talked about the March on Washington and then our future plans to register voters.”
The 19-year-old Cruz was formally charged on Wednesday with 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree. Cruz, who fully confessed his crimes to authorities, will plead guilty in an effort to avoid receiving a death sentence, according to attorney Howard Finkelstein. However, despite Cruz’s admission of guilt, Florida prosecutors may still seek capital punishment.