A young girl with Hirschsprung disease, Dani Jo Hearl, captured the hearts of UConn fans when she tweeted about the kindness of Nahiem Alleyne, a UConn men’s basketball player, almost a year ago. In a video posted to her family’s Twitter account, Dani Jo wished Alleyne good luck in Monday’s national championship game and reminded him that she continues to support him. Alleyne has been Dani Jo’s friend since his Virginia Tech days, always greeting her with high fives, hugs, and pictures after home games. Despite her condition, Dani Jo’s family continues to support her passion for basketball and Alleyne’s friendship has made it all the more special.
Alleyne’s Kindness and Friendship with Dani Jo
Dani Jo’s father, Joey Hearl, told CT Insider last year that his daughter has challenged cognitive development due to Hirschsprung disease, a condition that prevents waste from moving through the body. Doctors assume that this is a result of the disruption of oxygen flow to her brain as a child. Dani Jo cannot sleep without a ventilator due to a rare gene mutation and has had two-thirds of her intestines removed.
Despite her challenges, Dani Jo loves basketball, and Alleyne’s friendship with her has made it all the more special. When Alleyne was playing for Virginia Tech, Dani Jo and her family would drive an hour and a half from Mount Airy, N.C., to Blacksburg, Va., with all of Dani Jo’s oxygen tanks, ventilators, and suction machines to watch Alleyne play. Alleyne would always greet Dani Jo after home games, asking how she was doing, how school was going, and taking pictures with her.
“Every time he walks out of that locker room and sees her, comes over and asks how she’s doing, how school has been, high fives, pictures,” said Joey Hearl. “The amazing thing about this kid is he could score 25 points or go 1-for-10 from the floor, but he knows that Dani Jo is going to be waiting for him on the edge of the court, and he always comes back out to give her a hug. It’s special, man.”
Dani Jo Continues to Support Alleyne
Dani Jo’s tweet about Alleyne’s kindness went viral almost a year ago, and since then, she continues to support her favorite basketball player. In a video posted to her family’s Twitter account, Dani Jo wished Alleyne good luck in the national championship game against San Diego State, reminding him that she and her family will be watching and supporting him.
“Nahiem, we’ll all be watching you on TV. Go win that national championship tomorrow. I miss you, and I love you, and I’ll talk to you later. Go Huskies,” said Dani Jo.
The Hearl family also tweeted to the UConn men’s basketball program, expressing their gratitude for Alleyne’s friendship and asking the program to take good care of him. They said that Alleyne is not just a great player but an even better person, and that his family is nothing but heart. Dani Jo’s friendship with Alleyne has shown that basketball can bring people together, no matter the challenges they face.