Hockey, hockey, hockey and Jordan Eberle – these are a few of Dane’s favourite things! The Oilers made a new friend in three-year-old Dane who was visiting Rexall Place to spend time with his hockey hero prior to Friday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. For the team’s morning skate, it was business as usual, but this day was anything but ordinary for Dane, a wish child who travelled to Edmonton with his Mom, Dad and younger brother Kolby from Olds to hang out with #14.
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) and The Rainbow Society of Alberta granted the Oilers biggest (and littlest) fan the once-in-a-lifetime experience, including four tickets to Friday’s game, the opportunity to take in practice and an exclusive and personal tour of the Oilers Locker Room from none other than Eberle himself.
The Rainbow Society of Alberta provides wishes for children between the ages of three and 18 who have been diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness. Dane was diagnosed with hypoplastic right ventricle heart syndrome and pulmonary atresia of the heart prenatally, and when he was recommended to the program, making his Oilers moment a reality was a no-brainer for the Rainbow Society. Since its inception in 1986, 949 wishes have been granted for children from 151 communities throughout Alberta.
“Based on what Dane loves, this Oilers wish was the obvious choice for us to facilitate for him. Our goal is to create an experience that is beyond the child’s expectations and one that makes them exceptionally happy,” said Roxanne Hawkins, Program Manager, The Rainbow Society of Alberta. “It doesn’t matter how big or small the wish is as long as it lights a spark in the child’s heart. To see Dane’s face light up today was terrific and you just cannot duplicate that kind of smile.”
The brave little guy has already undergone three open-heart surgeries and although he might have less energy than other kids his age, Dane was bursting at the seams every time Jordan skated by, shouting “Eberle, Eberle!”, and never missed a beat during the Oilers morning skate. While he was busy admiring his beloved Oilers, Dane also caught the attention of Ryan Jones, who passed his stick over the boards for him to keep.
Seeing her son sport the biggest smile she’s ever witnessed meant the world to Dane’s Mom, and if you’ve ever met him you know that means a lot, as the three-year-old rocks a wide grin from ear-to-ear often.
“He’s buzzing! Last night he slept in his Oilers jersey to prep for his big day and today he woke up extra early because he’s on cloud nine,” said Ashley Haaland, Dane’s Mom. “He is hockey-obsessed and I know meeting Jordan Eberle has been incredible for him. It’s really a dream come true kind of day for Dane and our family.”
Jordan led his new pal into the Locker Room and even propped him up onto his bench stall where the pair talked shop, with Dane quick to point out that the two have their right-shot in common. Without hesitation, Jordan grabbed his stick and signed it for his little admirer. At only three-years-old, Dane’s hockey savviness and larger than life smile certainly charmed Eberle and the other Oilers who stopped by to meet the pint-sized Oilers fan.
While Dane will never have a fully functioning heart, the Oilers and Eberle in particular can tell you first-hand that Dane is all heart.