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Thomas surprises family who lost their home with new hockey gear

Tim and Colleen Hanlon and their 9 children lost everything when their home caught fire on June 16

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

IMPERIAL, MO - As the seconds ticked off the clock in Game 7, the Hanlon household could barely contain their excitement.

Tim Hanlon, his wife, Colleen, and their nine children were all gathered around the living room television, watching intently as the St. Louis Blues were on the verge of winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history. And when they finally did, the kids went wild.

"It was crazy," Tim told "It was insane, it was so exciting. The kids were jumping on everything, yelling and screaming. We went outside immediately and started playing 'Gloria.'"

There was much to celebrate, after all. In addition to the championship, Colleen had learned that she was pregnant: a 10th child was on the way.

And then, just days later, disaster struck.

Just one day after attending the Blues' championship parade downtown, the Hanlons got a phone call during a family outing at the lake informing them that their home had gone up in flames.

There wasn't much that could be salvaged.

"Everything burned or had smoke damage," Colleen said. "We lost everything in the house."

Furniture. Appliances. Toys. Hockey sticks, pucks and street hockey nets… gone. Even a hockey puck that one of the children had gotten as a souvenir at a Blues game last season was lost.

Since then, the Hanlons have been trying to get back on their feet. For nearly two months, they lived with friends and relatives and relied on the support of the community to get by. Neighbors brought meals and supplies such as pillows, bedding, toothbrushes and toys for the kids.

"Without that, we would have just collapsed," Colleen said. "Everyone who helped gave us hope. People would drop off toys for our kids just to make things seem normal for them. The community support has been huge."

For now, the Hanlons have moved into a temporary rental home in Imperial, MO. The family room has just a few toys inside - no furniture. The kitchen is mostly bare with the exception of a dining room table that won't seat 11, and the living room has just one couch and a small television - if the entire family is watching, they're going to have to squeeze in tight to see what's on.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, there was a knock on the door.

It was Robert Thomas.

Video: Thomas surprises family with new hockey gear

"I heard about what happened right after the parade," Thomas told the family. "We decided to stop by and we have a gift bag for you, and if you come outside, we've got some new hockey gear for you."

Thomas led the kids to the driveway, where a truck was loaded with two street hockey nets, a hockey stick for every child and a box of street hockey balls to play with.

"I can't even imagine what they went through with the fire," Thomas told "To be able to help out in the little way that I can, bring them some happiness, it really makes you feel good inside."

Thomas played a few street hockey games with the family in the driveway, then signed hats, sticks, T-shirts and autograph cards for everyone - including the neighbors who were the first to call the Hanlons to let them know what had happened to their home.

"This is incredible," Colleen said. "For somebody who is famous and does this stuff to want to come here and hang out with our kids… it means so much. It makes the kids so happy. This is a dream come true and this is their wildest dream.

"Sometimes good things can come from bad stuff," Colleen added. "To see so many people like Robert and our community come forward and help us, it means the world to us. It's a huge, huge deal. It's incredible."

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