Detroit Red Wings forward Riley Sheahan is known for his work ethic. That commitment has pushed the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his three professional seasons.
Yet, Sheahan admits his courage and strength pale in comparison to that of Morgan Behen.
Behen, a Red Wings fan and Michigan native, has an inoperable brain tumor. When the Birmingham, Mich.-based Wish Upon a Teen organization invited Behen and a date to their annual Evening of Dreams prom, the 22-year-old asked Sheahan to accompany her.
Sheahan, 24, who met Behen at a postgame meet-and-greet at Joe Louis Arena on her 22nd birthday, initially did not respond, instead deciding to surprise Behen at the May 14 event in Detroit. Sheahan told WXYZ TV station in Detroit he was more nervous for the prom than he was for a Red Wings playoff game.
"I was nervous at first," Sheahan told NHL.com. "Obviously, I'd never met her before other than after that game. It was awesome. She was so welcoming and so thankful. It was cool to see her expression when we first kind of met. Once the ice was kind of broken, we had a lot of fun."
Shortly after seeing Sheahan at the event, Behen told WXYZ she was "kind of speechless."
The Evening of Dreams prom is designed to give young men and women a traditional high-school prom experience they would otherwise miss because of treatment, hospitalization and complications from their medical conditions. Attendees came from across the United States and were offered free pre-prom styling and complimentary attire, food and entertainment for the night.
Sheahan said he was surprised Behen picked him to be her date.
"There are a lot of other players on my team, and I think that's one of the reasons I jumped at the opportunity," Sheahan said. "If I have the chance to make someone happy in that position, I'm going to jump at it."
Sheahan may have been the high-profile athlete invited, but he left the event inspired by Behen's courage, and believes that should be the lasting memory from the event.
"Her strength is something to look at," Sheahan said. "She requested me to go with her, but she should be looked up to. People battling sickness, I think they're very special people, and the strength they have goes beyond any athlete or any profession."