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Wings provide surprise for Gracie

by Christy Hammond / Detroit Red Wings

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DEARBORN, Mich. – The Red Wings joined Mojo in the Morning and Angels of Hope on Friday morning to celebrate Christmas in July with a special family.

Just less than a year ago, six-year-old Gracie Ford was rushed from Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Mich., to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., when she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma. Doctors found a brain tumor the size of an egg during surgery, which then required radiation and later chemotherapy.

Due to job difficulties and medical bills, the family was not able to really celebrate Christmas. The Mojo in the Morning show on Channel 95.5 got involved and decided they wanted to do something special for this well-deserving family.

“About two weeks ago, Mojo read an article online about the Ford family and he was just so touched by it,” explained, Spike, a co-host on the radio show. “He used this to bring positivity to his own life and then he thought maybe we could do something for them.”

The morning show threw a Christmas in July celebration on Friday outside the family’s house complete with a Christmas tree, décor and fake snow for the kids to play in. Gracie and her two brothers, nine-year-old Garrett and 11-year-old Gage, waited anxiously in the house, trying to catch a peek by pulling the shades until they were allowed to go outside and see their lawn transformed into a winter wonderland.

Upon hearing Gracie’s story, the Red Wings attended the party where radio play-by-play announcer Ken Kal invited the Ford family to go to a 2012-13 Red Wings’ practice, meet a player afterward and take a behind-the-scenes tour of the arena.

Gracie and her brothers each received a goody bag stuffed with a plethora of Wings items such as a Nicklas Lidstrom superhero cape and bobblehead, autographed Kris Draper 8x10 photo, T-shirt, mini hockey stick and much more.

“Of course we know that the Red Wings do so much community outreach all summer long in the offseason,” Spike said. “We knew you guys would love to be on board as well.”

Gracie’s mom, Tabitha, went out Thursday night and purchased a Red Wings T-shirt to wear during the festivities without knowing that the Wings would surprise her family with such a unique opportunity. Tears sprung loose when she heard that Gracie and her boys, who couldn’t keep their eyes off the ice when they attended their first Wings game last season as guests in the Henrik Zetterberg Foundation Suite, would get to meet a Wings player.

“It’s like pinch me and wake me up,” Gracie’s father Michael said. “Well, actually I wouldn’t want to wake up if it was a dream because this is nice.”

Following the Wings’ surprise, Santa and his elves arrived in a sleigh escorted by the Dearborn Police Department. Gracie’s eyes grew big at the sight of Santa and the many presents he brought her and her brothers. It was truly a day the family will never forget and a chance for Gracie, who underwent a 16-hour chemo treatment on Tuesday, to forget about how she is feeling for a change.

Angels of Hope, an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) foundation, is committed to making a difference in the lives of children and those who love and care for them as they battle cancer. They realize that cancer just doesn't impact the patient, it impacts the entire family. They offer a variety of programs to Michigan families including providing financial support, tutoring, family photography and our annual Christmas program. You can learn more about Angels of Hope on our website at angelsofhope.org.

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