DALLAS – The generosity of the Dallas Mavericks isn’t confined to just the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Or even to the state of Texas for that matter.
In the case of Prestun Seibel, the Mavs reached out over 1,100 miles to lend a gracious helping hand to a 7 year-old kid from Orlando, Florida who has been battling brain cancer for the past five years. After discovering Seibel’s situation via social media, Anthony Muraco set several wheels in motion that ultimately led to Seibel receiving a custom-made Mavs jersey with his name on it – and autographed by superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki – and numerous other Mavs-related gaming gear.
And not only that, after finding out that Seibel is a diehard fan of video games, Muraco telephoned someone he had just met at GameStop and arranged for them to award Seibel with some complimentary video games and other items.
“I actually came across the post about Prestun on one of my friend’s Twitter accounts,’’ said Muraco, who works as the Esports manager for the Mavs. “And being in the position that I’m in now, I felt touched by the fact that he uses video games to recover from his chemotherapy and keep his positive attitude, and I thought it is a good way for me to get acclimated into the community and give back considering that I am privileged enough to be put in the position that I’m in. I can actually now reach out to developers that I know, reach out to the sponsors that we’re working with to get help.”
Muraco’s actions were definitely noble considering he just started working with Mavs Gaming and the new NBA2k Esports League on May 8th. But a long-standing policy of helping the less fortunate has always been met with approval by owner Mark Cuban, regardless of where that person lives.
“I came across the post about three weeks ago and then I reached out to GameStop because they’re a great partner and we’re doing some work with them,” Muraco said. “I reached out and said ‘Hey, I came across this kid, he loves video games, can we do something together for him?’ Then I emailed Mark and told him that there’s a 7-year old kid with brain cancer, he loves video games, he loves Esports, he’s a big sports fan as well, can we hook him up with some Mavericks gear? I ended up getting him a custom jersey made with his number and his name on the back and had Dirk sign it, and sent his entire family T-shirts and caps as well, so they can all match and have some Mavs love in their life and not think about the fact that their 7-year old son has brain cancer.”
Muraco’s gratitude was certainly well received by the Seibel family.
“It was really nice of the Mavericks,” said Prestun’s mom, Tiffany Seibel. “We obviously live in Orlando and we have no ties to Dallas in any way, shape or form, so for Anthony to do that was very nice of him.
If Anthony wanted to, all he had to do was just holler at somebody and say, ‘Hey, send us some shirts.’ Instead, he took the time to get a custom shirt made for Prestun with his favorite number (five) on it, and he got a hold of GameStop.”
Tiffany knows the gifts to her son were well thought-out, including Muraco asking her what was Prestun’s favorite number.
“I still think the favorite thing for me was the jersey,” Tiffany said. “That’s just something you can keep forever – having your own name on a jersey. It says Mavericks on the front and Prestun on the back. To me, that was awesome.”
Asked what he wanted to tell Nowitzki about the autographed jersey, Prestun Seibel said: “Thank you. That’s awesome.”
So “awesome’ that Tiffany said of the personal touch bestowed upon her son by the Mavs, “I would like to personally thank some of these people for putting this together—their time and their effort. They didn’t have to do this. Somebody put the basket together, somebody had to take it to wherever to get it shipped, somebody made the phone call to GameStop and said, ‘Hey, can you help us out here?’ ‘’
John Davidson, the partnership manager at GameStop’s main headquarters in Grapevine, is the person Muraco contacted to assist with fulfilling Prestun Seibel’s wishes. And as Muraco sprung into action, so did Davidson.
“I went to a variety of our merchandisers who handles various accounts and shared Prestun’s story very briefly and said, ‘Hey, do you have any products that we’re able to put together?” Davidson said. “As the results of a number of people being generous, we were able to put together video games, controllers, we got him a backpack, a hat, a pretty wide variety of stuff.”
With that, Davidson shipped the goods to Muraco, who in turn had the entire Mavs and GameStop package wrapped and shipped to Prestun Seibel.
“A big shout out to Anthony and the Mavericks, too, because they’re the ones who brought it to my attention,” Davidson said. “Had it not been for the Mavericks’ generosity I would never even known about this situation and been able to help. So it was a really cool kind of partnership effort to be able to help out Prestun.”
While soaking in the adulation sent in her son’s direction, Tiffany Seibel acknowledged that Prestun Seibel has incurable stage 4 neuroblastomia (brain cancer) and that his disease has changed their lives.
“All of his treatments are in New York City, so Prestun will definitely have his air miles,” Tiffany Seibel said. “We’ve been on a plane about every two months to New York City for the last five years.”
“Prestun relapsed once and his cancer came back in September of 2014, and he had to have brain surgery. And then in September of 2016 he had another brain tumor, so he had his second brain surgery 10 months ago.”
And that’s not all.
“He’ll be monitored for the rest of his life (to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned) because of the fact that there is no cure, so they have to continue to monitor him,” Tiffany Seibel said. “This kid went through chemotherapy, radiation, tumor removal from the abdomen, and then when he relapsed he did chemotherapy again and radiation. This kid’s been through the wringer.”
“But video games are what got Prestun through all of this. When I was stuck in New York for 11 months back in Sept. 14 – and in 2015 I wasn’t home for 11 months – I lived in New York with Prestun, and video games really helped him cope and pass the time.”
Tiffany Seibel recalled the day when doctors first told her of her son’s initial diagnosis.
“Initially when he was diagnosed at age three they told us that we would be lucky to see him make his fourth birthday,” she said. “The hardest thing about living in this life is trying to capture every moment and hold onto it, because I don’t know what’s going to be in five years, I don’t know what’s going to be in six years. Everybody should live life to the fullest. It’s very exhausting to live it every day to the fullest, and I try to take a thousand pictures to capture it, because I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Muraco noted that, in his line of work, it just “made sense” to offer the Seibel’s some friendly assistance.
“If I can do that and make an entire family more positive about what they’re going through, then I’ll do that every time with no hesitation. I think that really reflects the overall perspective of the Dallas Mavericks’ culture and the American culture in general.”
Prestun Seibel’s dad, Matt Seibel, chimed in and thanked all those involved with the Mavs and GameStop who went out of their way to bring some joy to his son. He also wanted to send a “thank you’ to Cuban.
“His dream is to meet Mark Cuban,” Matt Seibel said, referring to Prestun.
At that moment, Matt Seibel corrected himself and laughed and said: “I mean, I would like to meet him. Every time I see him on the (ABC) show (Shark Tank) I think how cool it would be to meet him.”
On that light note by her husband, Tiffany Seibel said: “That’s my husband. He loves the Shark Tank show. My husband owns his own business, so he watches Shark Tank a lot.’’
As far as Prestun Seibel’s battle with brain cancer goes, his mom was inconsolable.
“It’s just sad that cancer puts you in this predicament,” Tiffany Seibel said. “It’s a nasty thing, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.
“It makes it that much worse when it’s a child than an adult. At least an adult got to live out their childhood. I feel like Prestun has been robbed. He’s always in the hospital, he’s sick, he’s missed school. This year he missed 70 days in school.”
And with the next school year set to start soon, everything’s up in the air in the Seibel household.
“Last month we were in New York for 12 days,” Tiffany Seibel said. “And I’m getting ready to go again at the end of August.”
The Seibel’s hope they get a chance to personally thank the Mavs for what they did for their son. And they’re optimistic of doing that when the Mavs make their lone visit to Orlando to play the Magic next season.
“The things that people do for the kindness for Prestun, it means a lot to us,” Tiffany Seibel said. “Because not only are they giving him something, they’re creating memories for him and they’re creating memories for us and bringing a smile to Prestun.”
“So I thank Anthony for everything he’s done. He didn’t have to do that. That was very kind of him.”