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A wish come true

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
When you're a kid, nothing is more fun than sleepovers with friends.

It's hours and hours of tirelessly playing video games, watching movies and wrestling in the backyard before a feast of the favorites, usually pizza and candy, brings everyone back to life to start things over again.

For 10-year-old Connor Duchek, sleepovers have always been a treat and it's a safe guess he'll be hosting a lot more of them from now on thanks to Make-A-Wish Canada and the Vancouver Canucks.

Connor, who was diagnosed with Leukemia in February 2007, spent seven months in a children's hospital battling his illness and during that time he was given one wish. It could be anything within reason and Make-A-Wish Canada would do their best to make it come true.

"In the hospital he started to watch a lot of home makeover shows like Extreme Makeover and stuff, then after the found out he could have his room made over I think right then and there he made that his wish," said Dave, Connor's dad.

A fifth grade student at Delta Manor and self-professed lifelong Trevor Linden fan, Connor wished to have his room completely redecorated in a Canucks theme. He wasn't overly specific on the details, just a mini-version of Vancouver's dressing room would be fine.

Connor made his wish back in July and through the vigorous work Make-A-Wish Canada and a professional themeologist, alongside Ryan Castle, the manager of Creative Services for the Canucks, it became a reality just over a week ago.

On October 19th Connor opened the door to his room and was taken aback by what he saw.

"I have a big TV now, and I have a raised bed so when I wake up I can almost touch the roof," said Connor, with a big grin.

"I have a computer and a chair that I can hook an iPod up to and it plays music out of it. The walls are all painted in the Canucks colors, and the blinds have a little remote where you can make it go up and down and the Canucks symbol is on it. It's pretty cool."

Connor knew his room was being revamped, but he didn't know what was being done or when it was going to be ready, so the priceless look of pure shock on his face was as genuine as reactions come.

He might have fainted if the original plan for the unveiling had worked out, Make-A-Wish originally wanted to have a member of the Canucks on hand to greet Connor and show him his new room. That didn't pan out as the Duchek family resides in Ladner and scheduling made it tough to get a player out there, instead the Ducheks were Willie Mitchell's special guests at this past Saturday night's 6-3 win over Edmonton.

Perched high above the ice in VIP seating, Connor, along with his sister Delaney, parents Dave and Tracy and grandparents Ron and Marrietta, took in the game while dressed to impress in Canucks gear.

Vancouver's win over Edmonton was exciting, but Connor couldn't wait for the game to end as he got to meet Willie Mitchell once it was over.

Shaking hands and getting his jersey signed by Mitchell was especially thrilling to Connor, explained his dad, because although the Canucks frequently visit children's hospitals throughout the season, the timing was off while Connor was a patient so he never got to meet any of his idols.

On this night Connor finally did and it was a great experience for both he and Mitchell.

"You could see in his face he was really excited to get to come down and meet one of the players and it's nice as a player to meet kids like that," said Mitchell. "Just seeing their enthusiasm for life puts things in perspective for you as an individual because right now I'm healthy and I'm playing a game that I love to do and there's lessons to be learned for us to and that's just to enjoy every day.

"It sounds like he got pretty spoiled there with getting his bedroom decked out in our dressing room colours. I was joking around with him and saying that I wish when I was a kid and a Canucks fan, I had all that. He's got a Linden jersey in his room and I was going to tell him that I had one too, but that would date Trevor and he wouldn't like me saying that," he joked.

Connor is now Leukemia free, although he visits the doctor regularly to ensure all is well. These days he doesn't have to worry about being sick any longer, Connor can just be a kid, and with the coolest bedroom ever, he shouldn't have any problems doing it.

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Canucks for Kids Fund
Make-A-Wish Canada

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