Originally published by SacBee.com on July 11, 2018
A Sacramento teen with an autoimmune disorder is fulfilling her dream of joining the Kings’ dance team.
Yani, a 14-year-old from Sacramento, can now call herself an honorary member of the Sacramento Kings Dancers for the 2018-19 season, through a partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The team announced its roster of dancers Wednesday. Yani danced competitively for two years before becoming ill last October. Her blood pressure spiked to extreme levels and she experienced sudden kidney failure, according to a Kings news release.
After 53 days in the hospital and multiple complications, including pneumonia and blood clots, doctors diagnosed Yani with lupus, an autoimmune disorder. Through “loving support from her family and friends,” Yani’s health is improving, the release said.
As a member of the dance team, Yani can join the Kings throughout the season for selected events like team building, practice sessions and appearances in the community. Yani will also be included in on-court dance performances during Kings games.
“I am so touched and grateful to have this opportunity,” Yani said in the release. “The way the Kings Dancers make me feel says a lot about their team and makes me want to be a part of it even more. They make me feel like myself again.”
Yani can be seen in a behind-the-scenes video (below) produced during the dance team’s media day on June 27.
The Kings have teamed with Make-A-Wish in the past with wishes granted for kids like Ethan, who dreamed of being a garbage man and held a news conference with the Kings at the state Capitol, as well as Bryant, who became a Sacramento ninja and saved Kings mascot Slamson.