(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Heath Kufahl said he had “a feeling” that if picked he could score a half-court shot at an Oklahoma City Thunder game and win $20,000. Turns out his feeling was right.
“I told the mascot I was going to make it, had a feeling I was going to make it,” Kufahl told ABC News. “After all that’s happened, the money is nice, but the story behind it is the bigger deal.”
Kufahl, 37, and his wife, Jenni Kufahl, 38, have seven children who range from twin 3-year-olds to a 13-year-old. He is a high school teacher of economics and Bible studies, and is also a coach. She homeschools some of their children.
Jenni Kufahl has appendix cancer, a rare malignancy, of which there are only about 500 cases diagnosed a year, say the Kufahls.
A few weeks ago, the couple were at an Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game and Heath Kufahl spotted the person who goes around the arena picking people to play a halftime game. Determined to get picked, he and his wife went to another game Tuesday night.
Tuesday’s halftime game pitted two couples against each other. The Kufahls made more baskets in the first round and advanced to the half-court shot round in which scoring would mean winning $20,000.
“I really thought I had a good chance, I have no idea why,” Heath Kufahl said. “I coach basketball. We mess around. I’ve done this growing up, but never in a setting like that.”
Video from the game showed Kufahl lick his hand, wipe it on his back pocket, bounce the ball four times and take the shot. The ball went right in, not even hitting the backboard or rim.
An ecstatic Kufahl took off running, arms in the air, as the arena erupted in cheers. The camera panned to his wife, dropped jaw and all.
“When he made it, I was totally shocked,” she told ABC News. “The look on my face shows shock, I didn’t even move. That just went in. I couldn’t believe it.”
After Kufahl’s celebratory lap around the court, he was handed a jumbo check for $20,000, which he said would be used to help pay for wife’s medical treatments. Jenni Kufahl has 10 more weeks of chemotherapy.
But, before that, the couple headed home to celebrate with their children.
“They were so excited,” Jenni Kufahl said. “We didn’t get home until probably midnight. We woke up the three oldest, sat for an hour-and-a-half together or more just watching YouTube videos that had been put up.”
Heath Kufahl said his students were thrilled at school on Wednesday, since they know his story. His wife brought them doughnuts and their scheduled test was moved to Thursday.
“It wasn’t luck we got picked and had this shot,” Jenni Kufahl said. “It was the Lord going before us, providing opportunity.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Steve Visser and Lauren Del Valle, CNN
Emanuella Grinberg, CNN