Mystics and Wizards Team Up for Holiday Foster Care Party

Chamique Holdsclaw and Annie Burgess read stories to over 450 area youth.
Mitchell Layton/WNBAE/Getty Images
Playing basketball in front of twenty thousand people certainly necessitates the talent to be cool and calm under pressure. Rivaling the pressure felt on the basketball court, the hoopsters performed for a different crowd on Sunday, with 450 little sets of eyes watching their every move and hanging on their every word as they read aloud a Holiday classic.

Chamique Holdsclaw and Annie Burgess of the Mystics, and the Wizards’ Jerry Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas welcomed over 450 of the area’s youth, many from the D.C. Department of Child and Family Services, for a fun-filled day of games and stories at Dave and Buster’s in Bethesda, Maryland.

“These kids are the future,” said Stackhouse. “It’s great to come out here and interact with them. This is what it’s all about. Especially at this time of year, anything that you can do to put a smile on a child’s face is well worth it.”

Treating the crowd to a solo performance of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Jerry Stackhouse captivated his audience, navigating flawlessly through the story with all eyes on him.

The Washington Mystics and Wizards Holiday Party was a great opportunity for the teams to spend some quality time with the youth of the community, and spread the word of the importance of reading through the NBA’s Read to Achieve initiative.

“This is very exciting,” said Annie Burgess while playing with the children. “It’s great to share moments like this with the kids. With all these games that are here to play, and the opportunity to express the importance of reading, which is especially important for me because I have an eight-year-old son, it’s great to be out there and be proud in being a positive role model.”

Highlighting the day’s events was a rendition of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, as the ballers turned balladeers were joined on stage by Washington DC Mayor Anthony Williams.

“It is always great to be out in the community,” said Chamique Holdsclaw. “Especially for something like this, celebrating the great work of foster parents, and giving these kids the kind of support that they need, it’s great to have this party and show our support.”

Having their run of the place at the indoor playground, the young guests of honor also found a way to level the playing field with their basketball idols. Video games, skeet-ball, and virtual reality competitions gave the kids the opportunity to beat the pros.

“This is a great day,” said Gilbert Arenas. “I would love to do this every year”.

‘Twas a Merry day for all, and for all a good night.