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All-Star Game

NHL's elite help wishes come true for kids at All-Star Game

Crosby, Matthews among players who make day special for children dealing with severe illnesses

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

Make-A-Wish: Meeting All-Stars

Make-A-Wish kids get the chance to meet NHL All-Stars

Thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada, kids got the chance to meet and greet the NHL All-Stars

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SAN JOSE -- Jason Brook was worried his wish might not come true.

Thanks to Children's Wish of Canada, the 18-year-old from Bonnyville, Alberta, was in San Jose for the 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Game at SAP Center on Saturday with the hope of meeting Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

"I've been watching him since he came into the NHL and I've been a big fan ever since," Brook said.


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But after Crosby missed the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills on Friday because he was ill and wasn't in the Eastern Conference locker room when Brook came to visit before the All-Star Game, Brook wasn't sure if meeting Crosby was in the cards for him. So it was a pleasant surprise when Brook walked through the door of the Western Conference locker room and Crosby was standing there waiting for him.

"That was pretty cool meeting him," Brook said. "It was the best day of my life. … I got a picture and I shook his hand and got a few signatures."

Brook, who is fully recovered from a renal transplant, was one of two children from Children's Wish of Canada at 2019 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, along with 17-year-old Tanner Stevenson from Orleans, Ontario. Make-A-Wish also brought 10-year-old Grayson Nunweiler from Kerrobert, Saskatchewan, and Michael Snyder from Hamilton, New Jersey, to San Jose to grant their wishes.

The children had prime spots on the red carpet for the players' arrival before the All-Star Skills on Friday. Nunweiler was thrilled to have his photo taken with his favorite player, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews - a picture that the Maple Leafs posted on their official Twitter.

But that didn't compare to meeting Matthews in the Eastern Conference locker room Saturday.

"I was shocked meeting him and shy," said Nunweiler, who has fibrillary astrocytomas (brain tumors).

Snyder, a New Jersey Devils fan, had been looking forward to getting his wish for a while, but had to wait until he was healthy. After a having a third kidney transplant in 2017, he finally is.

"I've had in my head what I wanted to do NHL-related, but I was always so sick I was never healthy enough to do it," Snyder said. "Once we got my transplant, it was like, 'OK, this is going to happen now because I'm finally healthy.'"

Snyder couldn't stop smiling after Devils forward Kyle Palmieri gave him a signed stick.

"I have no words," Snyder said. "Outstanding. … Lots of fun and lots of memories I'll always remember and it helps right now getting my mind off all the health situation."

Stevenson, who calls himself "the biggest" Winnipeg Jets fan, had his final treatment for lymphoblastic lymphoma and was declared cancer-free in December. He was excited to meet Jets forwards Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler, but was left in awe after Carolina Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho gave him his stick and autographed it.

"It was really weird actually," Stevenson said. "I went over to talk to him and he signed my book that I have in my bag. He signed it for me and was just like, 'Here, take this.' He just gave it to me and then walked away for a second and turned around and was like, 'Oh, wait , I've got to sign it.'"

Stevenson found a Jets connection for Aho, who was linemates with Winnipeg forward Patrik Laine for Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"Greatest day of my life, for sure," Stevenson said.

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