When NBA star Kosta Koufos and his fiancée, Eleni Bourlas, exchanged wedding vows on Sept. 1, they had a special request of their guests. In lieu of wedding gifts, they asked family and friends to make a donation in honor of Koufos’ late father to Akron Children’s Hospital’s Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders.
Akron Children’s holds a special place in the heart of the 7 ft. center for the Sacramento Kings, who grew up in Canton. His father, Dr. Alex Koufos, was a pediatric hematologist/oncologist at Akron Children’s from 1988 until his death in 1998.
As a child, Koufos often accompanied his father to work, where Dr. Koufos was beloved by his patients and hospital staff. Whenever he is back in Ohio, Koufos, now 29, regularly visits patients in the Showers Center and catches up with the nurses who worked alongside his father.
The “wedding gift” donation to Showers Center has so far exceeded $35,000 in addition to toys, books and games purchased for patients. The newlyweds delivered the gifts in person on a visit to the center on Sept. 10, where patients welcomed their hugs, high fives and selfies.
“We greatly appreciate Kosta and Eleni thinking of Akron Children’s and its patients on such a happy occasion,” said Dr. Jeffrey Hord, LOPen Charities and Mawaka Family chair in pediatric hematology/oncology and medical director of the Showers Family Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. “Through a memorial fund established in his father’s name, the donation will provide much needed support for our patient families during the most difficult time of their lives. It truly is a way for Dr. Koufos to live on and continue his work with us.”
Kosta Koufos graduated from GlenOak High School and played basketball at The Ohio State University for one year before joining the NBA, where he is entering his 11th season.
“Eleni and I are truly humbled by the outpouring of love at this special time in our lives,” said Koufos. “We are in awe by the work being done at the Showers Center to care for children with cancer. Every staff member recognizes what a difficult time this is for the children and families and they do everything they can to create a comfortable and loving environment for them. We are so grateful for our family and friends in making these donations in our honor, as well as in memory of my father.”
Both the bride and groom grew up in Canton’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church community, where the wedding took place over Labor Day weekend.