A kid who barely communicated with anyone leads his school to sports victory.

Being part of a team helped this middle-school student thrive in a big way.

Lots of parents get emotional when they see their kids playing sports. This mom is no different. But her son's story is.

As reported by Fox 46 Charlotte, just a few months ago, Tequila Coulter was the only one who her 13-year-old son JaQuise would fully communicate with.



"Quise," as he's affectionately called, has autism. And despite being a good student, a trumpet player in the band, and an usher at church, he was very shy and quiet.

So when he decided to try out for the competitive Knights basketball team at Charlotte, North Carolina's Grier Middle School, his mom was all for it.

"Coach Hunter made sure that he tried out. He did not just get put on the team because of his special needs. He actually tried out and worked hard, and for that I'm so proud of him."
— Tequila Coulter

Yes, Quise made the team. And that was just the beginning.

With the support of his family, teammates, and head coach Marquise Hunter, Quise quickly gained confidence and became an integral part of the team.

"As the season progressed, he definitely started to feel his self, like he definitely started to, you know, get some swagger to him."
— Marquise Hunter, Knights head coach

Here are Quise and his teammates dancing up a storm to get pumped up for the game:

It was that kind of teamwork, sportsmanship, and camaraderie that led them to the middle-school championship for the the third year in a row.

The once quiet, shy seventh-grader helped lead his team to victory.

Quise isn't just a victor on the basketball court. He's a winner all around. And his mom couldn't be prouder. She says confidently: "Just because he has a disability doesn't mean that he can't do things that he wants to do. He's a normal child, has normal dreams, and he's gonna do it."

To see JaQuise in action during the Knight's final game, check this out:

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Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

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