PITTSBURGH -- Matthew Jacko, an 8-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins fan diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, met Sidney Crosby, his favorite player, after Penguins practice Thursday.
Meeting his hero made Matthew's day. His parents, Bryan Jacko and Carey Mynahan-Jacko, said they were sure it made Crosby's day as well.
Matthew's tumor was diagnosed 18 months ago, after his parents noticed he wasn't running as well as he normally had during a baseball game. He was taken to Pittsburgh's Children's Hospital and diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor within 12 hours.
His story aired on WTAE-TV Pittsburgh. Matthew wore a Penguins T-shirt during the broadcast and named Crosby as his favorite player.
Matthew's family hopes to raise proceeds to support his cause through donations of stuffed monkey toys. A toy can be sponsored for $20, with the proceeds going toward his family's household expenses so his parents can stay at home with him during his remaining days.
After noticing the piece, the Penguins invited Matthew to their game against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. He began to get tired about halfway through, but stuck it out to watch his favorite team earn a 3-2 win with one of the more exhilarating final minutes to a game this season.
He was invited back to Consol Energy Center for Pittsburgh's practice Thursday.
"He just said 'That's awesome!'" said Carey, referencing Matthew's reaction to the invitation. "That's his favorite word to say is awesome. So, everything is awesome. When I woke up this morning I said 'Happy Halloween.'
"He said 'It's Penguin day!' So, he's definitely very excited."
Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo waved at Matthew while making his way onto the ice, but there was much more to come once he made his way to the Penguins' locker room.
Minutes after Matthew was led into the locker room, Crosby (who did not practice) entered, much to his young fan's surprise. Crosby pointed toward Matthew's T-shirt, which displayed a Crosby caricature, and asked "Who's that guy?"
"Sidney Crosby," Matthew responded.
Bryan then pointed to the real-life Crosby and repeated Crosby's previous question.
"Sidney Crosby," Matthew said again, causing everyone in the room to laugh.
Matthew enjoys making others laugh, which was evident Thursday. He played a trick on his idol by asking Crosby to put his hands together above his head while spelling "Image" then saying "Light bulb."
The joke is meant to make the person resemble a light bulb while saying what sounds like "I am a GE light bulb."
Crosby chuckled and took Matthew on a tour of the Penguins' facilities. Matthew was presented with a Crosby jersey, which Crosby signed, and a stick signed by Crosby and Penguins coach Dan Bylsma.
Before leaving the lounge next to the locker room, he met Crosby's fellow all-star center, Evgeni Malkin.
"Yeah, he likes him too," Carey said, laughing.
"Woot, woot! Let's go Pens!" Matthew said while leaving the room.
Matthew still watches almost all of Pittsburgh's games, but the past few days might change how he experiences the television broadcasts.
"I think it's going to be a little bit more real to him," Carey said. "He'll remember seeing everyone down on the ice. He'll remember seeing everybody and it'll be like kind of putting a face to a name."
Matthew used one word to describe his day: "Awesome."