Matthew Jacko may be small in size, but he has a big heart.
All the 8-year-old Monroeville, Pa. native wants is for everyone to smile.
Whether he’s making jokes or asking people to purchase a monkey toy to be donated to every child at Children’s Hospital, Matthew just wants everyone to be happy.
“Laughter is the best thing in the whole wide world,” he told WTAE’s Kelly Brennan.
Laughter is also the best medicine. Matthew was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor 18 months ago and his family doesn’t know how much time they will have left to spend with him. Matthew is confined to a wheel chair and speaks sporadically.
But his condition hasn’t lessened his love of life or love of people.
The Penguins discovered Matthew’s story when it aired on WTAE (click here for the video and story). In the video, Matthew was wearing a Penguins shirt, said his favorite player was Sidney Crosby and ended the segment with a “Go Pens!”
Since Matthew spends his days making everyone around him smile, the Penguins wanted to make him smile for a day. The Penguins invited Matthew to attend Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins and Thursday afternoon’s practice at CONSOL Energy Center.
Surrounded by loved ones, including his parents Brian Jacko and Carey Mynahan-Jacko, Matthew watched a few Penguins take the ice. He excitedly kept repeating “Marc-Andre Fleury!” every time the netminder skated past him.
But it was what happened following practice that will remain with the family forever. Matthew, wearing a Crosby t-shirt, got to personally meet No. 87 in the locker room.
“I’m your biggest fan,” he told Crosby.
Matthew even pranked Crosby. The youngster asked Sidney to lock his fingers and put his arms over his head. Then Crosby was told to spell the word “image” followed by saying the word light bulb.
A smile widened on Crosby’s face as he uttered the phrase “I am a GE light bulb.”
Crosby signed Matthew’s jersey, as well as giving him an autographed stick. The Penguins captain then took Matthew and his family on a private tour through the locker room facilities.
“Really, really, awesome,” Matthew said of his day.
And his favorite part? “Meeting Sidney.”
“This is awesome, truly awesome,” Brian Jacko said. “It’s beyond words. He thinks the world of Sidney. To get to meet him and be here is just awesome.”
Before leaving Matthew also met center Evgeni Malkin, who chatted with him and signed his jersey. Leaving the locker room Matthew said, “Woot, woot! Let’s go Pens!”
For information on how you can support Matthew’s cause to help make other children happy and donate a toy monkey, click here.