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Pitt’s Pickett stops by Freeport to see youth basketball player’s comeback from spinal disorder

Doug Gulasy

Freeport eighth-grader Drew Furer developed a friendship with Kenny Pickett as he spent time at Children’s Hospital recovering from a spinal cord disorder last spring, and the Pitt quarterback made sure he was there for Furer’s comeback.

Pickett dropped by Freeport’s Junior Jacket Classic junior high basketball tournament Saturday to watch Furer, who returned to play in very limited action this week.

The Pitt starting quarterback visited with Freeport’s eighth-grade team and took a picture with the team after the championship game against Deer Lakes.

“For somebody that young to go out of his way and come see Drew is phenomenal,” said Freeport athletic director Shawn Stivenson, the eighth-grade team’s coach. “To spend an hour and a half, two hours with us, is very nice. He made a connection with Drew, and it’s phenomenal.”

Furer suffered a spinal disorder called transverse myelitis, a condition that can cause pain and weakness in the arms and legs, last spring while at a travel basketball tournament in Maryland. He spent about a month at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he first met Pickett when the Pitt football team visited the hospital.

The eighth-grader is still recovering from the injury and is not at full strength, but he rejoined his eighth-grade team this season and Stivenson put him into a game Thursday at Riverview. While playing with a specialized set of teammates dubbed the “Drew Crew,” Furer scored a basket in the Yellowjackets’ win.

“The place went crazy,” Stivenson said.

Stivenson posted a video of Furer’s basket to Freeport’s athletics Twitter account, leading Pickett to reach out about visiting Saturday. Furer scored twice in Freeport’s championship win.

“People look up to people like that, and he’s a great young man to come up and see Drew,” Stivenson said.

Doug Gulasy is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Doug at [email protected] or via Twitter @dgulasy_Trib.