As high school rivals, Armin Omanovic and Christian Hurt squared off several times on the hardwood.
The pair took the court again on Friday afternoon at Wilkes Central High School, but this time as teammates and for an important cause.
Both players, along with several other former Wilkes County basketball standouts, teamed up with members of the Wilkes County Flames and Charlotte Fury from the Universal Basketball Association to play in the Second Annual Heal the Hurt Basketball Game.
While the Fury may have beaten the Flames, 58-53, the final score was secondary to helping out the Workman family and their 7-month-old son Grayson.
“The cause is for the boy. Steve (Workman, an assistant coach on the Wilkes Central girls’ basketball team) said that the insurance company didn’t really cover a lot of the expenses,” Omanovic said. “I feel for him because he’s working his tail off and his wife is too just to make sure that their son can stay alive and provide for him and for the family.
“There’s a lot more things more important than basketball in life and that’s what brought us here — the cause for the little boy,” added Omanovic. “It’s sad that something like that happened but he’s a warrior and he’s going to make it.”
Grayson Workman was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome or HLHS. It means the left side of the heart, where the left ventricle is located, is critically underdeveloped.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, HLHS develops before birth when the left ventricle and other structures, such as the aorta and mitral and aortic valves, do not grow properly.
As a result, the left side of the heart is unable to send enough blood to the body. The ventricle can support the circulation to both lungs and the body for a while, but the extra workload eventually causes the right side of the heart to fail.
The only solution is surgery, three of them, before the age of three years old.
Grayson has already had two of them. The second one, the Glenn shunt, took place at end of April. The first surgery was last November.
The goal of Friday’s game was to help raise money for the third surgery and according to Wilkes Central Principal Michelle Shepherd, around $650 was collected on the afternoon.
Hurt, a 2012 Starmount graduate, is no stranger to the situation the Workmans are in.
Currently a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Hurt was a three-sport standout at Starmount.
That was before a neck injury during a football game in the first round of state playoffs in November 2011, sidelined him.
Hurt had to wear an orthopedic halo and the only option to help repair his neck was a surgery that would fuse those bones and reconstruct his vertebrae.
The surgery took place back in November 2013.
“I’ve been in their position before where I needed help but I couldn’t help myself so I kind of felt like it’s our responsibility to help each other when we can,” said Hurt. “Armin has helped me out in a lot of ways and I can’t thank him enough for what he’s done for me so there’s no better way for me to help him out than to help him with anything he’s wanting to do.”
Omanovic, a 2012 Wilkes Central graduate and former basketball standout with the Eagles, feels that events like this one bring the community together.
He and Hurt teamed up in the first annual Annual Heal the Hurt Basketball Game last year for a girl who was battling scoliosis last summer and hopes that donations will continue to come in.
“I saw that Mr. Workman needed a helping hand and I did a charity event like it last year so I thought I spread the happiness and joy for everyone,” said Omanovic. “I enjoy doing this, it brings a smile to the community and unites us all.”
Note: To donate to Grayson’s medical fund, visit: http://www.gofundme.com/gv4pfo.