The Vancouver Canucks in partnership with Canuck Place created many special moments at GM Place on Wednesday evening.
More than 50 children, family members, staff and volunteers from the Canuck Place Children's Hospice took to the ice with Vancouver Canuck players Willie Mitchell, Marc Chouinard and Kevin Bieksa for a night of endless smiles, joyous laughter and unforgettable memories.
Canucks Team Mascot Fin may have been the most popular with the kids. As soon as Fin stepped on the ice, he was high-fiving, or is that high-finning with a circle of excited youngsters.
"I don't really know what to say, this is just such a great event for everyone involved," said Gordon Epp as he watched his 18 year-old son Angus make his way around the ice with Fin. "I know Angus really loves coming to an event like this and he's having a great time out there. He can't skate but he sure has a heck of time out there on four wheels."
Canuck Place opened its doors in 1995 and since then it's become the worldwide leader in specialized care for children with progressive life-threatening illnesses and their families. The unique healthcare facility serves to enhance quality of life through comprehensive and family-centered care.
Although some of the children weren't able to make it around the ice on their own, they received a lift when Fin and Canucks players pushed them to new heights around the GM Place ice.
"It's a lot of fun to get out on the ice with the kids and have them just be kids," said a grinning Mitchell afterwards. "Seeing the smiles on the faces of the kids as we're flying around in the wheelchairs is really great. These kids have some issues and stuff going on in their lives that most of us never face in a lifetime. An event like this is gratifying for me because I know it's gratifying for them."
Angus and the other rosy cheeked kids were having too much fun out there to make time for canucks.com - and who could blame them. They were busy having pictures taken, getting jerseys, hats and hockey cards signed and even marveling at the size of Chouinard.
"You're really tall," said one youngster as he peered almost straight up at the 6'5 smiling forward.
As the entire group readied themselves for a picture at center ice, Mr. Epp said his son, Angus, is an amazing young man.
"Angus is like a duck to water when it comes to hockey," said Gordon. "I took him to Canuck Place and he started meeting hockey players and then he got me really involved into sports too. He's taught me that sports and hockey and all the people involved can come together as a team. I guess that's what Canuck Place is all about."