Deng dream date not meant to be

May 17, 2012|By Matt Lindner | For RedEye

Much like Bulls fans' dreams of an NBA title, Ximena Beltran's dreams of taking the team's star forward to this year's Campfire Ball were simply not meant to come true.

The 25-year-old volunteer camp counselor posted video on YouTube asking Deng to be her date to Children's Oncology Services Inc.'s annual fundraiser, mounting a social media campaign to try to catch his eye.

It worked.

"On Wednesday he sent me a direct message [on Twitter] saying he saw the video and thought it was amazing but he had prior commitments and won't be in town, otherwise he would have gone," she said, her voice shaking with excitement. "He told me he thought what I'm doing [with COSI] is fantastic."

Beltran (pictured, center) created the video to honor her friend Aaron (pictured, right), a 17-year-old she met through COSI who died of cancer last year.

"I talked to Aaron's mom about it, and she was so excited," she said. "I feel like he's here and he would have loved this. He'd be laughing about it."

While her video wasn't successful in landing her a date with Deng, it was successful in drawing attention to the Campfire Ball.

For the first time in its five-year history, the event, which will take place Saturday night at Venue One, is expected to sell out. At press time, only 200 tickets remained for the Campfire Ball, and publicist Stephanie Krol said there's been enough interest to the point where they'll likely all be gone by Friday afternoon when registration closes.

"The best part was seeing all these people I don't know responding on Facebook," Beltran said. "Now they know about the event and the cause."

Beltran is the second Chicago sports fan to see her viral video invitation get shot down by a Chicago pro athlete via Twitter in the past few weeks.

In late April, Jordan Homa of Traverse City, Mich., created a video asking Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw to her senior prom, only to have Shaw decline due to--you guessed it--prior commitments.

Fortunately for Beltran, there's no shortage of suitors lining up to mend her not-so-broken heart.

"I was at Jerry Azumah's event on Wednesday night and a bunch of guys were saying they would take me if it wasn't NATO weekend," she said.

However, all hope is not lost for Beltran in the long run.

In the video, she pledged to donate 100 hours of her time to Deng's Foundation if he accepted her invitation. While he's taking her up on the latter offer, she said he did express interest in the former.

"He said he wants to get together in the future to talk to me about how we can make the world a better place," she said.

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