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Short Shifts

Rakell hosts honorary member of Ducks at All-Star Weekend

Cancer patient, 17, joins forward for festivities in Tampa

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

TAMPA -- Katie Hawley's adventures as an honorary member of the Anaheim Ducks continued through the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend, as the 17-year-old joined forward Rickard Rakell for everything from Media Day to the red carpet.

Hawley, who has been diagnosed with cancer three times since age 9, was named the 21st Duck in October and has formed a special bond with Rakell, her favorite player. She was his guest for all the festivities in Tampa.

"This whole weekend has been incredible," Hawley, who is from Ladera Ranch, California, said Sunday. "It's been so amazing. I'm so glad that it had a great end to it too."

Hawley got to play junior reporter at Media Day on Saturday, asking players if they watched "The Bachelor." It turned out the only one who said he enjoys the show is Rakell. He watches the Swedish version.

After Media Day, they went to lunch and bonded further.

"He told me about his personal life and how he started hockey and what inspired him, so it was good to build on that relationship with him," Hawley said.

Video: Rakell and Make-A-Wish guest Hawley walk red carpet

Hawley also got a chance to speak with New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle, who played in the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Amalie Arena on Sunday after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in September, causing him to miss the first 10 games of the season. He made his season debut Nov. 1 after receiving treatment.

"I actually didn't know that he was a cancer fighter," Hawley said. "I had no idea so we were able to pull him aside and we kind of told him what was going on with me and that I've been battling for eight years. He told me he was scared once he got it, but he's feeling better now and we both told each other that we were going to pray for each other, that was super sweet."

Hawley said the conversation hit home because Boyle is a professional athlete.

"You just never expect anyone like that to get sick so it's definitely a huge surprise," Hawley said. "But I'm glad that he's healthy and he played great. I was cheering for him on the sideline when he was playing (for the Metropolitan Division in the All-Star Game semifinals) against the Atlantic. I wish they would have won so they would have played us but I'm glad we won."

Before the All-Star Game, Hawley joined Rakell on the red carpet. She'd tried on numerous outfits before deciding on one that was comfortable and easy to walk in. A hair stylist and makeup artist came to her hotel room to get her and her mother ready for the event.

Video: Save Streak: Katie Hawley spends time with Rakell

"Walking the red carpet with Ricky was amazing and seeing all the fans asking for his autograph was super nice to see," Hawley said. "There were so many people who were inspired by him."

During the All-Star Game, Hawley cheered and screamed until she was nearly hoarse. Rakell gave her much to shout about, scoring twice in the final of the 3-on-3 tournament, a 5-2 victory for the Pacific against the Atlantic.

"I was just so proud of Rakell that he did so good and got two goals," Hawley said. "That's so incredible."

On Monday, she is scheduled to return to California. Hawley, who has had dozens of cancer-related procedures, will have thyroid cancer surgery on Feb. 8.

But she said she is feeling good and in great spirits, thanks in large part to the kindness shown by her favorite player and team.

"I just want to say thank you to the Ducks for sending me out here," Hawley said. "They paid for this whole trip and they just did [go] above and beyond for everything. They're so sweet and kind and generous to me."

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