"I am sure the kids will take a lot of positives from what Mr.Khan told them, and they will win a lot of medals and come back."
Eight days after Dr Vasudeo Bhatt, oncologist at Tata Memorial Centre, said those words, we received news that his prophecy had indeed come true, and the Indian contingent had bagged as many as 22 medals at the games!
But wait, who are these kids? What are these games? How did they meet Shah Rukh Khan?
Let's turn the clock back to last week for the full story.
Dr. Bhatt has spent a lot of time with a group of special kids who, very early in their lives, conquered pernicious diseases like acute leukemia, lymphoma and nephroblastoma to go on to represent India in the recently concluded World Children's Winners Games in Moscow.
We learned about this event through the good people at Tata Memorial Centre's Impacct Foundation, who have been working closely with Shah Rukh Khan's Meer Foundation.
When the story trickled to King Khan, an avid sports aficionado himself, he was moved by the remarkable tale of resurrection and expressed his interest in having them over at his home, for an interaction and to hand them their jerseys and kits for the competition.
With just a couple of days to go before they took off to Russia, Meer Foundation and the Knight Riders family got together to facilitate the surprise plan for the children.
The excitement was palpable through the hour-long session at Mannat, and was filled with heartwarming moments that will last in the kids' minds for a lifetime.
"Each kid that I met today has been a winner in his or her own life," Shah Rukh pointed out. "It was great spending time with these rays of sunshine and I wish them all the luck not just for the games in Russia, but also for everything else in their life. I have learnt of lot from them today, they are a source of inspiration and represent the true spirit of sportsmanship”
The games, targeted at assisting such young survivors in returning to normal life and rehabilitating, had first kicked off in 2010, with the help of the Gift of Life Foundation, an initiative spearheaded by Russian actresses Chulpan Khamatova and Dina Korzun.
The journey for the kids and those helping out, understandably, was laded with challenges.
"For the last three months, we have been meeting these children almost daily," Dr. Bhatt revealed, shedding light on the process of preparing the nine kids for the global event. "It was either me, or a couple of others we have on our team who met them, checking with them on how they were doing. From the medical point of view, we have been examining them, giving them inputs and giving them guidance. We have our dieticians who have been taking care of them over these three months, giving them the supplements that are required. They need a lot of pep talks in between, so we have been there for them all through the three months."
Sports, arguably the greatest leveller that there is, helped these children, aged between eight and 16, restore their confidence via professional training in athletics, football, shooting, chess, table-tennis and swimming - events that studded The World Children's Winners Games.
"Initially, they were not playing much," Dr. Bhatt insisted. "They played a bit, but not with the proper rules etc. But now, a lot of things have changed. Their outlook has changed. Three months back, if you met any of them, you would have noticed how quiet they were, not really willing to mingle much with others. But look now, you can see so much josh in all of them.
"We had to instil it in them that they are representing India. They are not representing the hospital or any town or any city. It was about playing for the country."