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Short Shifts

First NHL game rejuvenates retired police officer

Lightning helped boost Terri Coriaty Naumann during her cancer battle

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

Before the Tampa Bay Lightning left on their current six-game road trip, they gained a new fan.

The Lightning struck her, Terri Coriaty Naumann said, and she's got the shirt to prove it.

Naumann became a viral sensation Thursday inside Amalie Arena when she attended her first NHL game.

A retired Clearwater Police sergeant, Naumann needed a boost after completing chemotherapy a month ago. A friend gave her a ticket to the Lightning's game against the Sabres urging her to get out of the house, and it didn't take long for Naumann to fall in love.

"I walked in and I was like a little kid at Chuck E. Cheese," Naumann said.

She knew nothing about hockey, but the cool air and atmosphere were soothing. She had no idea what was going on on the ice, and it didn't really matter because she was having a blast and entertaining everyone around her with all of her questions about why the players banged their sticks on the ice, or why there were only four skaters.

Tweet from @ChristineLRM: There is a lady behind me at her first NHL game and it's the absolute cutest thing. She is so into learning the rules and penalties.

A member of the Lightning's Bolt Brigade spirit squad heard all the commotion and went over to meet Naumann with a free t-shirt.

"I just went up there and sat with her and asked her how the game was going and how she was liking it, and we just got into a conversation of how she used to be a police officer," Aaron Humphrey said.

He left and came back with a certificate for Naumann's first game and a couple more shirts. She also got a Steven Stamkos Funko Pop figurine.

"She was probably one of the sweetest older ladies I've ever met,"Humphrey said. "Just the stories she was telling me about helping family members at a young age, just even the fact of being a retired police officer, she got injured while being a cop and didn't want to retire with disability, wanted to continue serving. It's a true honor to meet somebody like that, that wants to continue helping people."

Naumann always made it a priority to help others, working around the clock as an officer. She lost a kidney in 1983 after an accident on duty, but chose to return to work. She had set up a GoFundMe page for someone in her community, not realizing she'd need the same help one day.

A month after her 62nd birthday in July, Naumann was diagnosed with Stage 3 bladder cancer. She'd had cancer for three years before the diagnosis. Her chemotherapy was aggressive and came with a host of expensive medications, one was upwards of $600 per prescription. So a longtime friend started a GoFundMe page to help with her expenses and give back to Naumann, who has given so much to others.

Following the grueling five months of chemotherapy, Naumann started to get her strength back. During that time she had become more withdrawn, spending time mostly with her two granddaughters.

That was until she got the offer to go to the Lightning game and realized she wanted to do something she'd never done before.

"I'm just thankful that I'm here," she said. "When you are diagnosed with a catastrophic disease, you look at life differently."

There was so much buzz around her that night, she was invited into the Lexus Lounge where she grabbed a bunch of warm cookies for the fans sitting around her.

"This one lady came from the other side of the aisle and she said, 'I just have to ask, are you famous? You've had more executives come over to your seat tonight, and I said, I am tonight!," Naumann said.

For days, Naumann couldn't stop sharing with everyone she knew about how great of a night she had, whether it was talking to them or posting photos and comments to her Facebook page.

She has another major surgery ahead once she regains her strength, but she's vowed to get to another Lightning game somehow.

"I'm just trying to live one day at a time now, I can't worry about what I don't have," she said. "But that game brought me back to life."

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