Fresh off a pretty spirited 7-0 win, the Edmonton Oilers took their joy to help spread cheer at nine Edmonton-area hospitals this past Wednesday. An Oilers tradition, the roster set out to meet numerous patients of all ages. For this one afternoon, patients and their families could spend quality time with their hockey heroes.
At the Stollery Children’s Hospital, the kids marveled as Andrew Ference, Sam Gagner, Ryan Smyth and Ilya Bryzgalov charmed each and every one of their young fans. For one in particular, this helped amp the positivity during his healing process.
Only 12-years-old, Jax is recovering from a life-altering kidney transplant. Exactly one week ago, his father selflessly donated his organ and all week, instead of recovery, the Oilers have been on his mind. He couldn’t stand the thought of missing an Oilers game and had the nurses set up a computer down in the PICU, this way he wouldn’t miss Saturday’s Battle of Alberta.
“Jax has been at the Stollery for so long and getting out of his day-to-day routine here to meet the Oilers, especially Ryan Smyth, has been pretty special,” said Jennifer Dorward, Jax’s Mom. “He is so happy; I can’t even begin to tell you how much this has made his day.”
Over at the Mazankowski Heart Institute at the U of A Hospital, Jordan Eberle, Nick Schultz and Steve MacIntyre were on-hand to mingle with those recovering from heart procedures.
“I think it’s wonderful to have them here because it’s the best physiotherapy I know,” said Sylvia Dagley. “We all got excited and tried to fix ourselves up.”
While undergoing triple-bypass surgery, Sylvia suffered a stroke and despite the obvious challenges ahead, she was clearly full of giggles as her favourite player, #14 checked in to see how she was doing. Alongside her husband, they both let Jordan know they’ve been following him since his days in the WHL.
It was a special day for numerous patients, but for the Oilers roster it was a moment they’ll remember and take with them too.
“I met an older couple who have been watching me since I was playing junior and now here with the Oilers. That’s amazing to hear so I thought that was pretty neat,” said Eberle.
“Being able to connect with these people to help take their minds off the serious stuff and laugh and talk about hockey or whatever, I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Meanwhile, throughout the rest of the city, the remainder of the Oilers roster were boosting spirits at the Cross Cancer Institute, Capital Care Norwood, Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, Grey Nuns Hospital, Misericordia Community Hospital, Sturgeon Community Hospital and the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
There certainly were smiles for miles around Edmonton.