On Friday, September 24, Rod Gilbert, on behalf of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, made a special visit to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to visit one of the Rangers biggest fans. Jake, 8, from Mahopac, NY, was recently diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Jake and his twin brother, Chase, were house hockey players for years but they temporarily hung up their skates when Jake became ill. Together Jake and Chase watch almost every Rangers game and root for the Blueshirts each night cheering on their favorite Ranger Chris Drury. With the Rangers season opener near, Gilbert brought some Rangers items to lift Jake’s spirits at his time in need.
The Hockey Hall of Famer and Rangers all-time leading scorer met Jake and his family in the playroom at the hospital. Gilbert talked and shared stories about his experience with his back injury when he was 19 years old, which almost permanently altered his career. In addition to offering words of encouragement, Gilbert signed autographs, posed for pictures and gave Rangers gift bags to Jake and Chase, including blankets, hats, playing cards, t-shirts and much more.
“I told Jake that hockey players’ prayers are the strongest,” Gilbert said. “His family and friends are praying for him, I will pray for him, and the Rangers will pray for him, and he will be back playing hockey someday.”
During his hospital stay, Jake has been making videos with the different toys in the playroom and uploaded them to YouTube to pass the time. He shared several of his favorite videos with Gilbert while they spent their time together. Before leaving, Gilbert presented Jake with a Rod Gilbert jersey and autographed it for him.
Jake’s twin, Chase is a perfect bone marrow match for him. On October 20, Chase underwent transplant surgery for his brother and did so bravely without any hesitation because it was for his brother.
The Rangers will keep Jake in their thoughts as the season continues and the organization aims to bring him to a Rangers game through the Make-A-Dream Come True program with the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
For more information on the Garden of Dreams Foundation or to find out how you can help, please log onto gardenofdreamsfoundation.org