MONTREAL - Some things in life are bigger than hockey.
Carey Price demonstrated that firsthand recently with a simple gesture which has had an enormous impact on the life of a young fan named Anderson.
On November 7, 2018 Anderson lost one of the most important people in his life. The 11-year-old's mother, Laura, passed away following a two-year battle with cancer at the age of 44.
Since then, Anderson has been struggling with feelings of grief and helplessness.
But on Feb. 23, the Brantford, ON native was on the receiving end of a gesture which has turned his life around.
Anderson had the opportunity to meet his idol Carey Price following a morning skate on the road in Toronto.
"I was very happy and I just broke into tears. I couldn't believe that a superstar player like him would take time out of his day to come and talk to me and come over," recalled Anderson. "That made me happy."
The young man couldn't help but think of his mother in the moment, who had long been trying to organize a meet-and-greet with his favorite player.
"I know my mom was always trying," continued Anderson. "For it to have finally happened, I know she is smiling down at me."
Anderson's father Kevin was also on-hand for the emotional moment.
"I was in tears, and to be honest with you, I didn't know what was going to happen," admitted the proud dad. "We knew we were going to get down to ice level, but when I saw one of the trainers go over and hand Carey Price the puck, and he signed it, I knew he was coming over to see Anderson. I just broke down in tears, and so did everybody else."
A memorable squeeze
In addition to signed Canadiens swag from Carey himself, Anderson likewise received the hug of a lifetime from the Habs netminder.
"It made me forget my sadness, and my anger, and made me very happy," recalled the 11-year-old. "It felt like he was promising me that everything will be okay, and that I'll be very happy."
Along with his father, Anderson shared the moment with his aunt Tammy and her husband, as well as his cousin.
"The hug that Carey gave him was just unbelievable. I've never seen anybody hold onto somebody for so long," described Kevin. "We still talk about that hug that Carey gave him. It was unbelievable to see a superstar holding onto your son. He told him everything will be okay."
The special moment was a long time in the making.
"We used to enter a lot of contests, but we would never win them. My uncle reached out to Graham [Rynbend] and Graham was able to get us into practice," explained Anderson. "My mom was always trying until she passed away. Then my uncle tried as hard as he could, and that's how I was able to meet Carey."
Of course, the youngster also got to meet the rest of the team.
"He knows all the players, the facts, what positions they play, [and so on]. He's been passionate about the Montreal Canadiens since he was very young," added his father. "His night light is a Canadiens Zamboni, and he knows every stat for every player."
Come game time, the family got to experience another first.
"He's been to games in Buffalo, but what was also special about this one was, not only did he get to see Carey at practice, but he also got to see Carey play," continued Kevin. "It was the first time Carey started a game that Anderson went to see live."
Stay strong Anderson, you're an inspiration to us all.
Photo Credit: Tammy Whitehead