Ben, an eight year old from Manchester, NH was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of three. He underwent three years of difficult treatment and, thankfully, is currently in remission. After lengthy treatments of chemotherapy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Ben was left without much energy and often gets tired after short activities as is typical with many Leukemia patients. As a result, many physical activities became daunting for young Ben, who relies at times on a wheel chair.
On Mother's Day 2011 Ben was drafted by the Saint Anselm's men's ice hockey program. After making the short trip down the road to the Saint A's rink, Ben was greeted in the Saint Anselm hockey locker room by coaches and players including Captains Ryan Holley and Tucker Mullin. Then Ben and his mom got a guided tour of the facility and a chance to pick out their seats for game days. For the next couple of hours Ben got to know his new teammates by playing a little floor hockey and some whiffle ball. He received a team jersey, some Saint A's hockey apparel as well as a couple of hockey sticks that the players cut down to his size.
As mother Jen was taking it all in, on one side of the room she saw a couple of the players taping up and customizing the hockey sticks by writing Ben's name and #10 on the handle just the way all of the other players have it on their sticks. On the other side of the locker room, Jen saw other players pitching the whiffle ball to him, teaching him how to swing the bat, and high-fiving him after each time he made solid contact. It was based on all of this attention, and the laughter that stemmed from it, that Jen has since termed it, "The Best Mother's Day I've Ever Had". She further marveled at the fact that after two hours of running around and playing that, uncharacteristically, Ben didn't appear tired. The suddenly energetic seven year old also would soon receive his own school ID card and school email address, just like any other Saint Anselm player would have.
Shortly after Ben's Draft Day, Ryan and Tucker treated Jen to lunch in order to better understand Benjamin's journey and determine exactly how best they could support each other on and off the ice. It was after that lunch meeting that Tucker shared this perspective; "I can't believe what they have been through. She and her son are two of the strongest and most courageous people I have ever met. It's a pleasure and an honor to have them as part of our team."
Throughout the summer, Tucker Mullin and a few of his teammates attended some of Ben's little league baseball games. Ben's mother immediately recognized how happy it made her son saying, "Ben felt like a rock star at the game hearing the cheers from his Saint Anselm teammates on the sidelines."
Donning his Saint Anselm jacket, Ben has since been able to return the cheering favor. Since the Hawks' season began, Ben and three guests have been rooting for the Hawks in his special front row seats located directly behind the bench. The relationship continues to develop to the benefit of all of the participants. The next chapter involves a few of the Hawks teaching Ben how to skate over the winter break. Best of luck this season Ben, to you and all of your Hawk teammates.