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Sharp's day to remember

by Paul Vinciguerra /
July 10 was a day Patrick Sharp will never forget. Neither will the residents of Thunder Bay, Ont. After all, it's not every day that a local son brings the Stanley Cup to town.

Cup keeper Mike Bolt handed the Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks' forward at the airport for Sharp's day in the sun. Not surprisingly, the crowd went crazy when Sharp raised the Cup above his head.

Sharp then left for Fort William Gardens, where he greeted and took pictures with roughly 1,000 visitors. This arena, which seats about 5,000, was where Sharp played his junior hockey with the Thunder Bay Flyers from 1998-2000. Sharp sat at his old locker and spoke with old teammates, as well as friends and family members. The session was only supposed to last until 1 p.m., but Sharp stayed late and made sure everyone received an autograph and/or picture. Many of the hockey-crazed folks had tears in their eyes, and Sharp fought back a few tears himself when he was announced and came out with the Stanley Cup.

From there, Sharp took the Cup to the George Jeffrey Children's Center, where roughly 50 people were able to meet the Hawks' winger. Once again, Sharp signed plenty of autographs and took pictures -- this time with special-needs children. Needless to say, everyone was all smiles.

The next stop was at the Boys & Girls Club of Thunder Bay, where a group of eager kids had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Stanley Cup up close.

Albert Aiello, who is the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Club of Thunder Bay, had nothing but praise for Sharp, who once again saw to it that every kid in attendance received a picture and/or autograph.

"He's living proof that every kid has potential," Aiello told

From there, Sharp brought the Stanley Cup to a neighbor's house, where he had a few laughs with friends and family.

After spending an hour at his house with the Cup, Sharp paid a visit to the field where he used to play baseball and raised the Cup at the pitcher's mound while players gathered around him. Sharp also met his old coach, who gave him a ride on his cart back to his limousine.

En route to his parents' house for a party, Sharp stopped and took pictures with more than 100 fans who were aching to have a moment with Lord Stanley. Accommodating throughout the day, Sharp made sure each and every person who requested a photo was provided with that opportunity.

How phenomenal was Sharp? Check this out ... during his visit to the George Jeffrey Children's Center, there was actually one child who arrived late and missed his opportunity to meet him and see the Stanley Cup. Sharp got out of his limousine and rectified the situation, which certainly provided the child with an unforgettable moment.

It was evident throughout the day that Sharp was one of the nicest pro athletes I've ever been in contact with. While you might think he'd make a day like this all about himself, he opted to make it about everyone in the Thunder Bay community.

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