At 12-year-old Brenden Justice’s home in Reynoldsburg, you will find a bedroom overflowing with Blue Jackets memorabilia.
He has everything from a bed with a custom hockey stick headboard that his father, Joe Justice, constructed, all the way to an actual goal which he often takes practice shots at. His family has even gone as far as building hockey-style lockers in his room to hang his gear.
Sounds like a dream room for hockey fans, right?
Brenden really became a Blue Jackets fan during the 2008-09 season when he attended a game against the Florida Panthers. This wasn’t Brenden’s first Blue Jackets game, but it was the most memorable one in his journey to becoming a diehard fan.
One day, when Brenden’s mother Stephanie was driving in her Jeep - which dons a spare tire cover with the original Blue Jackets logo - a car pulled up next to her and offered her free tickets to that game against the Panthers.
Those tickets turned out to be just five rows behind the Blue Jackets’ net.
“I had been to other hockey games and didn’t really get it, but when I sat behind (Steve) Mason, I saw how awesome it was and became interested in it,” Brenden said.
Brenden, currently 12 and approaching the milestone 13th birthday, aspires to be a hockey player and dreams of one day playing in the NHL.
His journey (and his family’s), however, has not been an easy one. During pregnancy, Stephanie received word that Brenden was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot, which is a four-part heart defect. This is a rare defect that occurs in approximately five of every 10,000 newborns.
In 2002, he had to have surgery to place two grafts in his heart. There were many complications involved throughout the process, as well as having tonsils removed three years later and a hernia repair at age five.
Brenden hasn’t let any of his past ailments hold him back. He started skating in 2010, but took a break due to an illness in the family. This past year, however, Brenden has jumped right back into action, and is now taking hockey and skating lessons.
“This summer, he went to the Blue Jackets hockey camp and loved it,” said Stephanie. Each day, he spent three hours on the ice and an hour off of the ice. “He worked really hard and never gave up on a drill. I was really impressed with him.”
You can find Brenden at Blue Jackets games, often under his alter ego, “Mask Justice.” After his family became friends with a Blue Jackets fan we all know as "Mask Juice," Brenden thought it would be a cool idea to start wearing a mask to games as well. He asked for his first mask for Christmas (even though he ended up getting it a little early).
After purchasing a few more, he received some masks from Mask Juice and now has around 50 masks in his collection - all of which have ties to one of the many Columbus area sports teams.
You can find Brenden on Twitter, where he has two accounts: @BrendenCBJ_Fan and @maskjustice. Be sure to give him a follow and say hey!