Grant Chupinka, a 24-year-old cancer patient, left the hospital Monday morning and thought he was stopping by PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh to pick up an autographed Sidney Crosby jersey. He ended up getting a whole lot more, including a meeting with the man himself.
"I couldn't really explain it," Chupinka said. "It was really cool to see how down to earth 'Sid' really is. You see him on TV and you just wonder if he's an incredible person, and he is."
Chupinka started the visit with his parents, Kim and Steve, taking in the morning skate and chatting with goaltender Matt Murray. While he was talking to Murray, Crosby surprised him. Among the topics of conversation was fantasy hockey. Chupinka said his brother beat him to drafting Crosby.
"It's nice we had the opportunity to do that," Crosby said. "I think we're fortunate enough to do things like this at different points throughout the year and I think it helps change your mind a bit and keeps things in perspective. The biggest thing is for the people you meet to enjoy themselves and have a great experience. Hopefully that was the case with Grant."
Crosby gave him the autographed jersey, as well as an autographed puck and stick.
Chupinka was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma when he was six months old and underwent multiple surgeries. In addition, he had a bone marrow transplant when he was 19 months old. He was cancer-free until February, when he was diagnosed with bone cancer. When chemotherapy wasn't working, he had four operations in July. But he grew another tumor. It was on Saturday that they found out the tumor had started to shrink, so the visit with Crosby came at a perfect time.
"It was really awesome," Kim said. "He wasn't expecting this. It's just a joy to see him so excited."