No more than 3-feet-tall and full of life, 4-year-old Alex Yohalem, was the youngest pediatric patient to join the San Jose Sharks during its official Hockey Fights Cancer Night on Saturday, November 5 at SAP Center.
Yohalem, who has been battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia since age 2, fell in love with hockey and the Sharks when S.J. Sharkie came to visit the pediatric unit at Kaiser Permanente's Santa Clara Medical Center during his treatment. Seeing the Sharks commitment to helping local children in their time of need inspired him and his family to be lifelong fans. Yet his family never imagined the once-in-a-lifetime experience Alex would receive from the Sharks on Saturday.
Early that morning, Yohalem watched the Sharks morning skate and received fist bumps from the team before touring the practice facility - Solar4America Ice.
That evening, Alex and his family received a behind-the-scenes tour of SAP Center, including watching warm-ups from the Zamboni entrance and he and four other pediatric cancer patients, joined the Sharks starting lineup on the ice for the National Anthem.
Donning a teal jersey with the nameplate "fearless," Yohalem slowly walked through the iconic Shark Head and onto the freshly cut ice to see Sharks forward Joonas Donskoi reaching his hand out for him. Hand-in-hand Donskoi and Yohalem finished the trek to the blue line as more than 17,000 fans watched on.
Before parting ways, Donskoi surprised Yohalem by giving him his hockey stick, as a simple gesture to let Alex know he is not fighting this battle alone.
In a day that brought the defending Stanley Cup champions to Sharks Territory, it is often moments like Donskoi and Yohalem shared that remind us all that there are bigger battles to be won off the ice.