Carter Hart liked the special gold stick he used before warmups for the Philadelphia Flyers home opener against the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 9.
But he wanted one of the people who helped design it to have it.
Lucy McCabe, a 3-year-old who had cancer, drew a ladybug with 6-year-old sister Molly that Hart picked to go on a special stick that was going to be used before a preseason game against the Boston Bruins on Sept. 19. September is Pediatric Cancer Awareness month, and November is Hockey Fights Cancer month across the NHL.
But Lucy died Sept. 17, and the Flyers goalie opted to save the stick for a different occasion. Mandy McCabe, Molly and Lucy's mother, was watching the Flyers-Bruins game with her husband, Ryan, when they were stunned to hear their names mentioned on the broadcast as part of Hart's plan.
"It was just a few days after my daughter had passed," Mandy McCabe said Thursday. "It was a shock, a different range of emotions."
Hart gave the stick to Molly after the Flyers' 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
"It was such a wonderful experience," Mandy said Thursday.
Lucy and Molly had been part of the Philadelphia Union soccer team's Kick Childhood Cancer initiative, Fearless 43. The 43 is in reference to the statistic that 43 children are diagnosed with cancer each day. One of the Fearless 43's projects was creating artwork that could go on the equipment of Philadelphia-area professional athletes.
The McCabes worked with the Union and the Flyers to arrange for Ryan, Mandy and Molly to have tickets to the game Wednesday and meet with Hart afterward. It was Molly's first NHL game.
"She was excited to go to the hockey game," Mandy said. "She was into it. … She knows [Jakub] Voracek, Carter Hart, JVR (James van Riemsdyk). My husband, as girly as Molly is, he makes sure she knows the players."
It was a late night for Molly, but Mandy said she wasn't shy when Hart came in to meet them. After talking in a private room at the arena, Hart took the family into the Flyers locker room and posed for pictures.
"She talked to him," Mandy said. "She went up to him and talked to him, she held his helmets, his gear. Her best friend is a hockey player, so that broke the ice for her. She goes to his pee-wee league games."
Mandy said they have a place at their home picked out to display the stick, which Hart signed.
"In our back room, which is our bar/fun room," she said. "It's going to be hanging up in there."
Hart was one of several Philadelphia professional athletes who have used equipment designed by members of the Fearless 43, including Voracek, who used a gold stick in warmups before that Sept. 19 preseason game. Also taking part were Scott Kingery and Jake Arrieta of the Philadelphia Phillies, Rasul Douglas of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Union players Alejandro Bedoya, Jack Elliott, Marco Fabian and Auston Trusty, who all wore gold cleats. Voracek's stick and the cleats were auctioned to raise money for the Kisses For Kyle Foundation, which offers a variety of services to families fighting childhood cancer in the Philadelphia region.
"It was nice to go and say hi after the game," Hart said Thursday. "I know it wasn't the result we wanted in the game, but it was [Molly's] first NHL game. She was smiling after. That's what it's about. You go in there after the game, you see them and how happy she is and how happy the family was to meet me and come in the locker room after, that just puts a smile on my face. Very happy to do that."