Fortunately, a Tar Heel fan who's battling cancer will be able to see the big game in person, thanks to the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation.
A great day for this @UNC_Basketball fan! He’s a cancer patient with free tickets to the game in Chapel Hill against @dukebasketball, thanks to the @fillyourbucket1 Foundation. Watch his reaction to the surprise gift when we air his story on @ABC11_WTVD pic.twitter.com/umPGM2XTts— Anthony Wilson (@AnthonyABC11) March 9, 2019
With the ball on UNC's court for Saturday's game, ticket prices purchased from secondary sellers have soared. That worked out well for the Foundation. The organization was able to secure a pair of those sought-after tickets with the help of a generous bidder at an auction last year.
"I even offered to sell them back, or put them up on StubHub to get the donation for the Fill Your Bucket List because I feel so passionately about all the money and efforts that go towards the Fill Your Bucket list," said the donor, Karen Britt.
Brian Brown, the man who's currently battling cancer, traveled to Chapel Hill from Greensboro with his friend Derrick Andrews, who knew about the planned presentation of the secretly acquired tickets.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, Brown entered the Carolina Inn's lobby dressed in Carolina Blue and white clothing. He was there thinking he would just be watching the game on TV.
"I'm very excited to see his reaction because he has no clue!" exclaimed Britt.
Peggy Carroll of the Fill Your Bucket Foundation pretended to be a greeter at the Carolina Inn when the two friends walked into the lobby.
"So your friend here, Derrick, thinks the world of you and says he would bring you over here to watch the game?" Carroll asked.
She then handed him a bag with Tar Heel logo items inside, then coaxed him to open a drink container with the real welcome gift inside.
"Sweet," said Brown, smiling.
Andrews, already aware, asked, "What is it?"
"Tickets!" they both exclaimed.
As both men laughed, ABC11 asked Andrews how hard it was keeping Brown in the dark about the tickets.
"Very hard," he replied. "But if anybody deserves it, it's him."
"I was just awestruck, taken aback," said Brown with a big smile. "God is good. I'm blessed!"
He got his tickets while fans around the world had their eyes on the Dean Dome, watching ESPN's College GameDay. Instead of reading all about the game or having to watch it on TV, he'll be enjoying it up close, but minus Duke freshman Zion Williamson.
"I wish he would play, though," Brown said. "I want to play against the best!"
Brown has fond memories of watching the last UNC/Duke game inside Cameron Indoor Stadium.
"It was two hours where I forgot that I had cancer," said Brown.
Now, with wish number 111 granted by the Foundation, he gets to watch his favorite team play in person, on their home court.
The Fill Your Bucket List Foundation has another fundraiser planned on April 13, when they'll accept more donations that will help more patients like Brian Brown keep their spirits up as they battle cancer.