Runnin’ Rebels leap to help out for Christmas charity event

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Leila Navidi

UNLV mascot Hey Reb! and cheerleader Treasure Bamberg walk to the Ramos house in Henderson Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011, to surprise the family with tickets to the next day’s UNLV basketball game.

In 12 Days: Day 10

Alicia and Pascual Ramos are excited to hear they have tickets for their family to attend a UNLV basketball game after being surprised at their home in Henderson on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2011. Launch slideshow »

Basketball players usually don’t come to mind when singing “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but for the Ramos family, the UNLV Rebels certainly are the lords-a-leaping.

Alicia and Pascual Ramos and three of their sons answered their door Thursday afternoon to the frantic knocking of the UNLV mascot, "Hey Reb!"

After receding back into their home from surprise, the family was coaxed outside and presented with tickets to Friday’s UNLV game against California — and the opportunity to shoot hoops with the Rebels.

“Surprise after surprise,” Alicia said. “We weren’t expecting that.”

Members of the Ramos family are among the recipients in this year’s In12Days, a 12-day event started by Suzanne Lea, who wanted to surprise people around Southern Nevada this holiday season.

The family received an overnight stay at Lake Las Vegas on the sixth day, but didn’t know that Day 10 was also designated for them.

Cheerleader Treasure Bamberg joined Hey Reb! at the Ramos’ front door along with Bridget Byrne, director of community relations for UNLV Athletics who presented the family with their gift.

The three brothers, Nolan, 20, who is in the Army and just arrived from Phoenix after two years of active duty, Joel, 18, and Oscar, 14, stood outside the home, each smiling in disbelief. Another brother, Clayton, 22, was at work.

“It’s nice to see them smile and be happy,” said Renee Jarvis, a friend of the family who gave them a $120 concession stand voucher, so the boys could splurge on food during the game.

The extra cheer comes at a tough time for the family whose youngest son, 6-year-old Adam, died the day after Christmas last year from complications after a tonsillectomy.

When Lea got wind of Oscar’s love for basketball and instantly thought meeting the Rebels would be a perfect fit for the "lords a leaping" mentioned in the carol.

Today marks the 10th day and the first day of love, Lea said. “You never underestimate the gift of suffering. It gives you that much more capacity of love.”

Once the family arrived at the Thomas & Mack, the brothers watched the team practice drills and waited anxiously for their chance to get on the court.

“It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime chance,” Oscar said.

But first Lea set some ground rules.

“Listen Ramos family,” Lea said. “I want you to go easy on these guys, they got a big game tomorrow.”

Players showed off during the practice by dunking baskets and making free throws without looking.

Oscar also brought his A-game, scoring four free throws in a row and one 3-pointer.

“I just wish I was that tall and had their hops,” Oscar said.

Players were all smiles during practice, including shooting guard Kendall Wallace who was the first to greet the brothers onto the court.

“Glad to be out here to help Oscar and his family make Christmas special,” Wallace said.

Even coach Dave Rice was impressed.

“You guys shot well,” Rice said to the brothers. “I saw a lot of makes.”

Byrne said team gets several requests throughout the year and one of the challenges is finding a time that works for everyone. It just so happened that the players would be in town on the 10th day.

“It worked out,” Byrne said. “Ten lords-a-leaping was the team and it was meant to be.”

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  1. Very cool story. Another reason to support the University and the activities which it promotes in the community. Hope to see the family at the game this afternoon.

  2. Coach Kruger was a class act and Coach Rice has taken them a step further. What a great way to build a relationship with the community and to have the community take ownership of the team. You make us proud Rebels!