As most of you know, last Sunday, my hockey team and I had the chance to play in the PNC Arena. For those of you who couldn’t attend, I decided to write this week’s blog about the game. There was a great article in the News&Observer on Monday and a video on the Canes website. You can also see photos at the NCEWHA Facebook Fan Page.
From the media, you can tell we won the game 10-2, but this event was about so much more than who won. First, we retired Cameron Williams’ jersey, which was a great moment to honor a young man who we lost way too soon and to see his family. To make it even more special, the final score added up to Cameron’s #12. This is another little thing that reminds us that when we lose someone, they are always with us as long as we have Faith. I’m not going to preach today, but there are examples like this everywhere, we just have to open our eyes and our hearts.
Personally, I will always remember playing in an NHL Arena. I really think this experience was better than the one I missed during our tournament in 2009. Tournaments are very stressful and it’s all about winning while Sunday was just about enjoying the moment…and getting back at the Hurricanes staff for beating us last season.
Playing in the Arena was a dream come true just because it’s an opportunity that most hockey fans will never have. However, it was even more special to me because I was able to share it with great friends and family. I realized that yes, perhaps something like this could happen through the Make-A-Wish Foundation or another charity, but this event happened because my friends with the Hurricanes wanted it to happen. It is truly an honor to know that they believe enough in my organization and care enough about me to have such a big event. Win or lose, the Hurricanes will always be the classiest professional sports program because they only hire employees with great hearts and it shows through their actions in the community. Of course, I would really like to see a playoff game this year…hint hint!
In addition to the Canes staff, it was great to share this moment with all my friends. Of course, some friends couldn’t attend, but they all sent me supportive messages on game day or before. For those that did come, it was greatly appreciated. I live about 60 miles east of Raleigh and we usually have our games at the local high school, so my local friends come to the games but others say we need to play closer to their hometowns. In the hockey program, we hear that excuse a lot with gas prices, etc., but it rarely changes when we do go to those areas.
Because of the distance, I didn’t expect many of my local friends to come, but they did just to share this moment with me. It was no questions asked either. When I would ask if they were coming and if they could volunteer, it was never “Can you find someone else?” There answer was always “Of course, I’ll be there, what do you need me to do.” Even people I hadn’t seen in over a year drove hours just to share the day with me. Of course, some local friends in Raleigh attended as well.
My point is that yes, it feels great to know that hard work does pay off as I watch the NCEWHA continue to grow. It feels even better, however, to know that people care about me so much. Thank you for all of your support!