Since March of 2016 14-year-old Will Cody has been in and out of the hospital fighting Leukemia through three different surgeries and chemotherapy. While his battle has certainly been a trying time for him and his family, Will recently found himself in the midst of a positive life-changing experience when he became a member of the Washington Capitals over the weekend.
Through Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, Cody's wish to be a Capitals player was granted on Jan. 19 when Capitals owner Ted Leonsis signed Will to a three-day contract.
Will's weekend with the Capitals continued Saturday morning when he arrived at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in a limousine.
Following a behind-the-scenes tour of the practice facility, Cody received the full NHL player treatment including getting his picture taken for the jumbotron and having his skates sharpened.
With his brand-new Capitals uniform sporting his favorite number 37, Cody watched the team run through drills from the bench. Toward the end of practice, head coach Barry Trotz waved Cody onto the ice and introduced him to the team as Caps players tapped their sticks on the ice in applause.
Cody then began practicing with the players. He set his new teammates up for slapshots at one end of the ice, worked with Jay Beagle on faceoffs at center ice and then practiced his shot at the other end with T.J. Oshie and Chandler Stephenson.
"The kid's got a pretty good one-timer," Stephenson quipped to Cody's dad, Bill, as he came off the ice.
Cody's time as a Capital continued the next day for team's game against the Philadelphia Flyers. Cody arrived at Capital One Arena alongside his favorite player, Alex Ovechkin. As he walked into the locker room, Cody wore a huge smile that got even bigger with each player he fist bumped.
After suiting up in his uniform, Cody took to the ice with the Capitals and was announced as part of the starting lineup to a huge ovation by Capitals fans.
"I was a little nervous at first, but then I felt fine after I skated a few laps," said Cody. "Then I stood on the blue line for the national anthem between Tom Wilson and Ovechkin. There were a lot of people in the crowd cheering my name, so that felt really good. I feel like a real Washington Capital now."
Cody's weekend with the Capitals concluded with a postgame visit to his locker room stall, where he received signatures, pucks and pictures with the team that he can take home to always remind him of his time as an NHL player.
"Words can't describe how amazing it was watching my son's dream and wish come true," Bill Cody said. "Seeing the whole dream come true and seeing him out there with the players and watching the players treat him like a member of the Capitals family. I can't say enough thanks to the Washington Capitals and Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic. It's brought so much happiness to our family the last couple of days."
Although he is technically in remission, Cody still has a ways to go with his treatments. But following his big weekend with the Capitals, Cody will have something positive to think about to help him get through his final stages of treatment.
"July 2019, hopefully he'll be able to ring a bell and be done with all of his treatment," Bill Cody said. "But this Make-A-Wish will carry him through that day, if not longer."