The Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin
partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of the Mid-Atlantic to grant the wish of 18-year-old Robert, from Essexville, Mich., to watch a game in person and meet the Caps captain. Robert, who has battled Hodgkins Lymphoma, attended the Caps game against the Islanders on Feb. 28 with his parents, step-mother, friend and wish manager.
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The group was greeted by Caps staff members at the game who presented Robert with an autographed Ovechkin jersey. The Make-A-Wish Foundation had not told Robert and his family what to expect, so every experience was a surprise for them. Robert and his friend, Brad, were then escorted to the visiting team penalty box where they watched the teams warm up from ice level. They got to see the Caps players up close and met announcer Wes Johnson, who let Robert help introduce the team as they entered the ice.
When the teams cleared the ice, Robert and Brad headed to their suite to rejoin their group. On the way there, Robert was given a goody bag containing an Ovechkin jersey T-shirt, a foam 8, a Capitals calendar, puck, sweatshirt and hat, a personalized nameplate just like the players have in the locker room, player bobbleheads and plenty of other Caps memorabilia. Robert’s face lit up as he received all the Caps swag and he couldn’t wait for the game to start.
At the end of the first period, the Caps were down 1-0, but Robert was still having a great time. Coming from Michigan, he was happy to be sitting with a suite full of Capitals fans who he could talk Caps hockey to. During the first intermission, Robert and Brad got a behind-the-scenes tour, starting with the TV trucks. After meeting the Comcast SportsNet crew and watching the producer run the show, the group headed upstairs to the press box. There Robert met general manager George McPhee who hoped that Robert had brought some good luck with him for the Caps. Robert and Brad then stopped in the television booth, where they watched Craig Laughlin and Joe Beninati in action. During a TV timeout they were able to take a group photo together and chat briefly with the broadcasters. Before heading back to the suite, Brad and Robert also visited the radio booth and met the organist.
Shortly before the end of the second period, Robert and Brad prepared to ride the Olympia Ice-Resurfacers during the intermission. The boys headed down to the event level, passing the Georgetown, Wizards, Mystics and Capitals locker rooms. While on the ice, Robert was formally welcomed and introduced to the crowd by Johnson and he even appeared on the video board. A smiling Robert waved to the crowd as he helped resurface the ice. On the way back to their seats, Robert and Brad took photos in front of the Capitals locker room and met in-arena host Guerin Austin. Robert was also told that he was going to meet Ovechkin after the game. Upon hearing this he was both ecstatic and worried – the Caps were still down 1-0, and Robert didn’t want Ovechkin to be in a bad mood.
Robert got the story book ending he had hoped for the game. The Caps couldn’t have scripted a more perfect finish for him. After falling behind by two goals, Troy Brouwer
scored two goals at the end of the game to send it to overtime. Ovechkin secured the win for the Caps, scoring the game-winning goal. Robert cheered wildly as Ovechkin was named the first star of the game.
Back downstairs after the game, Robert and his family waited anxiously for Ovechkin. Ovechkin arrived and brought teammate Jason Chimera
with him, who had an assist on the first goal of the night. After chatting for a few minutes, and Ovechkin telling Robert that the game-winning goal was in his honor, the players presented Robert with some gifts of their own. Ovechkin gave Robert a pair of his skates and Chimera gave him an autographed stick. The players signed some items for the family and took photos together. Robert could not stop smiling.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Founded in 1980 when a group of caring volunteers helped a young boy fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, the Foundation is now the largest wish-granting charity in the world.
For more information about the Make-A-Wish Foundation of the Mid-Atlantic, including how you can help refer a local child from Maryland, Northern Virginia, Delaware or the District of Columbia for a wish as well as sponsor a wish or donate in-kind gifts of goods, services or airline frequent flier miles, please call (301) 962-9474 or visit www.midatlantic.wish.org