Christine Savella was just trying to be a good mother.
Her 10-year-old son, Jack, is a Vancouver Canucks fan who has always liked hometown boy Troy Stecher. Jack became an even bigger fan of the defenceman from Richmond two years ago when Stecher introduced the world to his beautiful Bernese Mountain Dog Phoebe.
Fast-forward to Tuesday, April 2nd, the day of the Canucks final home game of this past season. Fans were invited to meet the players on the Toyota Plaza outside the arena before warm-up, and Jack wasn't missing out on that. Wanting to not only get Stecher's autograph, but also give him a gift in return, Jack reminded his mom Christine of a promise she made to one day paint a photo of Phoebe.
This request didn't come out of left field. Christine is an artist specializing in contemporary pet portraits. She quit her office job a few years ago to follow her dream and pursue an art career full-time, and now celebrates furry family members through stunning art.
When Jack made the request months earlier, she saw how much a painting of Phoebe for Troy meant to her son. So, late last month, Christine said she'd love to do a painting. Great, said Jack, we leave for Rogers Arena in an hour.
"I started speed painting," laughed Christine. "At first I thought that my efforts would be disregarded, I don't have enough time, what are the chances that this artwork would get to Troy? Would security let him look at it? How would Troy react? Would Jack even get a chance to meet him?
"I quickly hushed the negative chatter in my head and painted away. My son is proud of his 'art mama' and I wanted to keep my promise to him no matter what. It felt good to watch Jack leave for the arena, super excited with the gift for Troy in his hand. That's one less mom fail!"
It was an absolute mom victory as not only did Jack get to meet Stecher and present him with the painting of Phoebe, Stecher loved it so much he immediately reached out to Christine, who had tagged him and the photo on social media. A meet and greet was arranged before Stecher left to represent Team Canada at the IIHF World Championship, where the 25-year-old not only got to thank the family from Langley for its support, he was surprised with an even bigger and better painting of Phoebe.
Video: Stecher is Gifted Amazing Phoebe Painting by Fan
"I just don't even know what to say," smiled an overwhelmed Stecher. "The first painting was so beautiful, I immediately gave it to my mom before the game and she was speechless. Now to receive this is really special. Canucks fans truly are the best. I'm moving to a new apartment later this summer and this will be the first painting I hang. It might be the only one I hang!"
Christine and family posed for photos and got autographs from Stecher, while also making friends with Phoebe, who loves the painting. It was a delightful afternoon all made possible because a mom kept her promise and painted a smile onto her son's face.
"The lesson from all this is that hard work pays off," said Christine. "I'm always trying to teach my kids that and I work hard every day to live out my dream as a painter. This is my passion and every day I grow as an artist, sharing my artistry, becoming a better human and this makes for a purposeful life. This is the stuff I want my kids to learn, so being able to surprise Jack with this meet and greet was very special."
Christine's artwork can be viewed here.