By Kyle Harland
78-year-old Kelowna resident Carol Schiissler watches the Canucks every chance she gets. But last year when she was diagnosed with cancer, she had to stay in hospital, endure tests, and undergo chemotherapy. Throughout that time, Carol wasn't able to watch as many games as she was used to.
Her 27-year-old granddaughter, Jadene Stojak, recalls that her grandma even asked to have a TV in her hospital room just so she could watch the Canucks. "That's the one thing she wanted," said Jadene.
Carol never did get a TV in her hospital room, but she would be granted an even bigger wish when Jadene entered her in the "OK Tire Take Your Mom To A Canucks Game" contest - and won.
"I was at the Canucks game with my mum, and there was a piece of paper on my seat," said Jadene. That piece of paper was the entry form for the contest. Instantly, her grandma came to mind. It was November then, and Carol was going through aggressive chemotherapy for her lymphoma.
"We were thinking how special it would be to get my grandma to come to a game," said Jadene. "Within a couple days I wrote the story, not even thinking that I would ever win."
Two months passed by, and Jadene had practically forgotten about the contest when she received a surprise phone call. It was then that she learned she would be taking her grandma to see the Canucks play the Los Angeles Kings on January 26, complete with a behind-the-scenes tour of the arena and a free stay at the Hyatt.
She didn't wait long to pass on the good news to her grandma, who had finished chemotherapy treatment and was feeling healthy again by now. "I called my grandma and said, 'Grandma, are you sitting down? I have something to tell you.'"
It was overwhelming for Carol to hear such exciting news. "Jadene and I both started crying we were so happy," she said.
When the game day finally arrived, Jadene and Carol spent some time with their family at the Hyatt to prepare for the big occasion. Just before they headed over to the arena, there was one thing left to do. "My grandma wanted to rehearse her wave one last time, because we had to go on the big screen and wave," said Jadene.
Despite observing the Canucks' TV schedule religiously, Carol had never been to GM Place. Her first visit exceeded her expectations. A couple hours before the game started, Jadene and Carol went on their tour, exploring the press box, zambonis, and TV camera stations. "I really enjoyed was the behind the scenes tour," said Carol.
In their Canucks jerseys, they both posed for a picture up in the press box, with Carol clutching her ticket close to her chest. "My most memorable moment with my grandma was when we got that picture taken, because I realized how special it was for her," said Jadene.
The game itself was a thrill for Carol. "Just to be in the arena and have all the excitement around you - you know everybody's a fan."
"It was really neat to watch my grandma and how excited she would get," said Jadene. "I've watched games with her before in her living room, and she's like that. She's actively involved in the game."
If there was one complaint, it was the Canucks didn't win. But at least they made it exciting, losing in overtime. And her favorite player, Roberto Luongo
, put on a stellar performance.
After battling cancer, watching her first live Canucks game meant a lot to Carol. "I couldn't have had anything nicer happen," she said. "It was once in a lifetime for me."
Her granddaughter knew that the game had a big impact, too. "It made me realize that miracles do happen," said Jadene. "I realized how much the simplest things can mean to people when they're going through hard times. For my grandma, that's the Canucks."