Patrick O'Rear was unable to walk in his high school graduation, so the Dallas Stars brought the ceremony to him.
Former Stars goalie Marty Turco delivered O'Rear his high school diploma, and Dallas goalie Ben Bishop sent along well wishes as O'Rear battled leukemia in a North Texas hospital.
O'Rear, 18, finished eighth in his graduating class from Collegiate Academy in North Richland Hills, Texas and was slated to walk in his graduation June 6 then study mechanical engineering at Texas A&M University in the fall.
But he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia May 26, deferred his college acceptance a year and decided against attending the ceremony as he continued chemotherapy treatments at Medical City Hospital in Dallas.
"It was tough because school got canceled [due to the COVID-19 pandemic], and I hadn't really seen my friends in a while, and I was looking forward to seeing them at graduation," O'Rear told NHL.com. "It was a little bit disappointing."
O'Rear has been hooked on Stars hockey since he and his family attended a game against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. The O'Rears became season-ticket holders in 2018-19, cheering for the Stars as they reached Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round.
"I loved it from the get-go," O'Rear said. "The atmosphere in the American Airlines Center was electrifying, and I love everything about hockey and the Stars and Ben Bishop doing good in goal. It's just really fun."
Turco, the Stars Foundation president, got wind of O'Rear's story and passionate fandom and decided to surprise him at the hospital. Turco asked Bishop to join, but he had a doctor's appointment so the Stars goalie prerecorded a message for O'Rear instead.
"We got to find out that Patrick is a brilliant kid, super smart and has been dealt an unfortunate hand," Turco told NHL.com. "I think he's got a great mindset and perspective to kick this thing's butt.
"Getting to meet him and learn a little bit about him and his family … they gave me a lot of inspiration."
O'Rear had been taking a nap when Turco surprised him in his hospital room but seeing the team leader in career goalie wins walk in was a stunning moment after months of bad news.
"I was just trying to take a nap and rest and stuff, and all of a sudden … Marty Turco shows up and I was like, 'What the heck, this is crazy,'" O'Rear said. "It was really cool to see him come in and hand me my diploma."
The Stars recorded a video of the interaction, which played at the school's graduation ceremony. When his friends saw the gesture, they lit up O'Rear's phone with well wishes.
"I had tons of people message me," O'Rear said. "They said they were in awe when they saw it."
O'Rear was especially grateful that the Stars were there when he needed a lift most, and Turco was overjoyed at the opportunity to deliver.
"His mom was just really grateful and couldn't believe that it happened," Turco said. "If there's ever an opportunity to make someone's day or be a part of something cool, that's one of the best parts of our job is to make someone's day, and honestly it makes mine just as much."