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A Dream Come True

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by:  Rebecca Virgin


Monday, March 12, 2007

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If there was a quote to sum up this day in Brandon Gibson's life it would have to be, "It was a dream come true." What child, teenager, adult doesn't dream of spending a day with their heroes?

Today was the day that Brandon Gibson was invited back to Air Canada Centre, with two new healthy lungs, to hit the ice and practise with Jeff O'Neill and some of his favourite Leafs; Kyle Wellwood, and Andrew Raycroft.

(Rebecca Virgin/mapleleafs.com)

The Leafs first met Brandon when he was on hand as an ambassador for Trillium Gift of Life Network at a game in October to promote signing your donor cards, and more importantly to talk to family and friends about your wishes.  Back then Brandon was still on a waiting list for new lungs, needed from a battle with cystic fibrosis.

On November 22nd, 2006 Brandon got his first "dream come true" a double lung transplant, and less than 4 months have passed, but Brandon was itching to get back to playing hockey. 

Between the Leafs, Jeff O'Neill, Jody Vance of Leafs TV, and National Sports, Brandon was provided with a full set of new goalie equipment (including a team signed Leafs goalie mask), since he had out grown his old gear from the last time he was healthy enough to play, and took to the ice for a little taste of Leafs practice.

Brandon can now say he's been deked out by Kyle Wellwood, made a glove save on Jeff O'Neill, and stopped pucks during a rapid fire with several other Leafs, all with tips from a nearby Andrew Raycroft.

I would love to offer up some more quotes from Brandon but he was speechless for the majority of the morning, other than a few "thank yous", "wows", and "it's awesomes"

But Brandon's mom wasn't speechless, and couldn't stop telling everyone how amazed she was that Brandon was even on skates again, never mind where he was and who he was with.

"After getting his breathing tube out, one of the first questions he asked was if Kyle (Wellwood) knew, and I told him yes, "he's been asking,'" said Muriel Gibson, Brandon's mom.   "I think in his (Brandon's) mind it was nice just to meet everyone and now all of sudden it's "they remember me.'"

"Brandon is living, breathing proof of what organ donation can do," said Jennifer Tracey, Trillium Gift of Life Network.  "It's gratifying for the families of donors to see kids like Brandon and for people who haven't talked about organ donation it's a chance to think about the positive side of it."

Since the Leafs first teamed up with Trillium Gift of Life Network, first with a poster campaign, as well as the game night at Air Canada Centre, Tracey says that there has been a rise in donations, but she adds that there is still a lot of work to be done.

"Toronto has one of the lowest rates of donation and it has so much potential," said Tracey.  "For the Leafs organization to be involved, above and beyond what we originally expected, is just awesome.  It's a great way to raise awareness."

Tune in to Leafs TV on Friday for Molson Canadian Game Day to see and experience Brandon's dream come true, a morning with the Leafs.  From getting his new equipment, being mic'ed on the ice with his heroes, hanging out in the dressing room, and being a celebrity to the media, Brandon lived a day that could never be forgotten, and all because someone signed a donor card and talked about it.

For more information on organ donation you can visit www.giftoflife.on.ca

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