When the McDonald’s All-American Game rosters were announced in January, one name in particular stood out to me among the rest. Ayanna Patterson of Homestead High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana made the final cut. This was a thrill because, like Ayanna, I also competed in basketball for the Homestead Spartans. Unfortunately, our similarities end there as I never became a McDonald’s All-American. Or Indiana (Mr.) Miss Basketball. Or a University of Connecticut commit. You get the point. Nonetheless, to see my former school and my hometown rally around her as she was recognized at the highest athletic level was something to behold.

Following the roster announcement, I was told the local McDonald’s restaurant owner/operators in the Fort Wayne area were interested in presenting Ayanna with her All-American jersey. Throughout my time at SeyferthPR, I have found myself working at some unexpected, albeit fun and interesting events. However, traveling back to my own high school to coordinate a McDonald’s All-American jersey presentation proved to be the most unexpected.

Upon my return, as I stepped into the Homestead gymnasium for the first time in nearly seven years, I was immediately taken back to my days of high school basketball. Countless hours spent practicing with close friends and competing against bitter rivals. Memories of games won and lost (mostly won, not to brag). Lessons learned and relationships built with coaches and players alike. It felt like a full-circle moment to be back for Ayanna’s presentation as the only other McDonald’s All-American player to come through the school was one of my teammates.

As an avid fan of basketball at all levels, I have long enjoyed watching the McDonald’s All American Games. It is a special and unique experience to see young stars being celebrated on the biggest stage as they prepare for their respective careers in college and beyond. Forty-eight of the best boys and girls high school basketball players from North America compete in an East vs. West format in Chicago, Illinois. In its 45-year history, the annual showcase has become the premier high school basketball all-star event and has featured some of the sport’s greatest legends, including Michael Jordan, LeBron James, A’ja Wilson and Candace Parker to name a few.

In this year’s edition, Ayanna, representing the East team as a starter, cruised to victory with a final score of 95-75. During her 15 minutes in the game, she tallied two points, two rebounds, and two steals. In addition, Ayanna participated in the Powerade JamFest Slam Dunk Contest the night before.

The McDonald’s All-American Game continues to be a highlight event year after year, with all proceeds going to Ronald McDonald House Charities. It was a pleasure to see Ayanna represent Northeast Indiana so well and I cannot wait to see what she accomplishes at the next level. One thing I have learned through my work in PR is that I don’t always know where the work is going to take me, but in this case, it could not have been a better experience.

Teddy Ray
Assistant Account Executive