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Isles, Make-A-Wish Foundation team up for young fans

by Jacob Betzner / New York Islanders

The New York Islanders and the Make-A-Wish Foundation teamed up to make Saturday an unforgettable day for two young fans.

The team invited Dale Lillibridge, a 14-year-old fan who recently defeated Ewing’s Sarcoma and Taylor Dattoli, a 10-year-old currently battling cancer, to spend the morning with the team and take center ice at night.

Lillibridge and Dattoli were stars of the show, getting an up-close and personal Islanders experience before dropping the puck in front of 15,208 fans. Nine hours before puck drop, their day started with one-on-one interactions with the entire team at the morning skate.

“I got a phone call [from Dale’s mother] after they left saying that it was the best hour-and-a-half of his life being [at morning skate], just being able to meet all the guys,” Islanders Manager of Community Relations Ann Rina said.

Dattoli had met several Islanders when the players visited Cohen Children’s Medical Center, but she had yet to meet her favorite player, John Tavares. She was speechless when she finally met him at morning skate.

Lillibridge was just as excited to meet the team and even gave Head Coach Jack Capuano a few suggestions on Frans Nielsen before his first-career hat trick.

Lillibridge always wanted to be an Islanders season ticket holder, so Make-a-Wish Foundation stepped up and granted his wish in September. He has been to every home game so far this season and likes what he sees so far from the team.

“It’s pretty special being the last season at the Coliseum,” said Lillibridge said. “I want to see the [Stanley] Cup one last time. It’s very special to me, especially because of the Islanders playing on Long Island. It’s not like anywhere else. The fans are great.”

The smiles said it all, as the children created lasting memories.

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