The last time mass hysteria spread across the Majory Stoneman Douglas campus in Parkland, Fla., it was caused by an act of unthinkable horror. When it arrived in the cafeteria on Wednesday, it was born of pure, benevolent goodwill … and possibly a political message.
Miami Heat superstar Dwyane Wade — an outspoken advocate for gun control for years, and particularly in the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas shooting — visited the school unannounced Wednesday, coursing through the cafeteria during the campus’ lunch period and greeting students cheerfully during Stoneman Douglas’ first full day of school since the shooting on Valentine’s Day, February 14.
Wade’s visit came less than two hours after Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Secretary of Education, also visited the campus. It goes without saying that the Heat star’s time on campus drew significantly more attention and excitement than the visit from DeVos, who has justified arming teachers in part by citing potential attacks from grizzly bears.
As captured by the Palm Beach Post, Wade met with Broward County school board member Rosalind Osgood once he arrived on campus, then was captured on social media by students — and Osgood — as he toured the campus, shook hands and took photos with just about anyone he could.
Wade was eventually given a microphone to address the students in the cafeteria, offering encouragement and his self-professed pride in how the entire MSD community had responded to the tragic mass shooting.
Wade’s close was the perfect coda for his message, and the atmosphere at the school Wednesday: “MSD Strong all the way.”
The longtime Heat franchise lynchpin returned to Miami at the NBA Trade Deadline in a deal with the Cleveland Cavs. The Stoneman Douglas shooting followed less than a week later, and one of the victims was later buried in a Wade Heat jersey. The star has since dedicated the remainder of his season in memory of that victim, Joaquin Oliver, and met with members of his family who attended Miami’s game against Detroit on Saturday, handing them over a custom pair of his shoes and a jersey from the game.
“It’s a tough time for their family, it’s a tough time for a lot of families in Parkland,” Wade told the Palm Beach Post of his meeting with the Oliver family. “I’m thankful they came to the game, thankful I got a chance just to talk to them and tell them my appreciation, to let them know we will continue to use our voice, to continue to shine the light on what they’re talking about and what they’re going through and what they’re dealing with.”