Saturday, October 22, 2011

Keeping the dream...

Doesn't almost every little boy who plays sports grow up dreaming he will play for a professional sports team? Nolan doesn't just dream about it, he does everything within his power to be around professional sports, namely hockey, as much as possible.

But he is limited to what mom and and dad can provide. Typically Wild tickets for the 4 of us is just out of the question.  Unless, a generous and compassionate wife of a professional player steps in.

Last summer, the day Matt Cullen, #7 for the Minnesota Wild, came to the rink to sign autographs for our young hockey players, its was his wife Bridget we spent so much time talking to. While Nolan is certainly a Wild fan, and a Matt Cullen fan, its no secret he is a huge Penguins fan and loves Sidney Crosby.

And Bridget's eyes grew big when she heard that. Since Matt and Bridget are friends with the coach of the Penguins, Dan Bylsma, maybe Nolan would enjoy coming to the game when the Penguins come to play the Wild?

True to her word, Bridget set aside two tickets to the Penguins game for Nolan and Rick last Tuesday. While I went to chemo, Nolan got out of school for a half day and drove to the cities with Rick.  (Colton had no interest in going this time which turned out well when he came home with a fever that day.)

Nolan was only momentarily disappointed that both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin had not made the trip.  Because waiting for him and Rick were family passes, allowing them to congregate with the families of the players outside the locker rooms after the game.

Rick had already submitted  a list of games to the Wild for him to shoot photos at, but he was turned down for some of them, including the Penguins game.  My point and shoot camera would have to do for their photos.

Matt Cullen taking the face off below for the Wild.

Penguins players after the game, signing Nolan's jersey

Co-owner of the Penguins and legendary player... Mario Lemieux

Nolan has been a long time member of the Pittsburgh kids club and he has hung onto every player photo they send to him.  He was thrilled when Fleury agreed to sign both the jersey and the picture Nolan had brought!  Plus, he got Nolan's name perfectly. Its always the little things that they remember.

And now the Wild players.  They just had no puck luck that night and lost the game even though they played well throughout the night.  Nolan got several more Wild players, but Rick has abandoned my out matched camera by then.

This is one exhausted, beaming kid.  

Nolan's hockey dreams are alive and thriving.  Who knows if he will ever have the "stuff" it takes to make it, but what I love, is that he at least believes in the dream and works pretty hard at hockey because of it.  

We are forever indebted to Bridget Cullen for setting this whole thing up for Nolan and Rick.  Matt and Bridget are cofounders of the Cullen's Children's Foundation, or Cully's Kids which provides financial resources to organizations that support children's healthcare needs with an emphasis on cancer.  They both understand the stress and toll that cancer takes on a family and work tirelessly to raise funds and support for kids with cancer.  We're honored to volunteer at the events every summer and come away with rewards beyond measure in being around "Cully's Kids." 

From my own perspective I know it was more than just going to the game and meeting the players, for my two guys.  Truly what Bridget enabled my boys to do, was forget about cancer for a day, and just be hockey loving fans, and that is the best gift of all.  


  1. Hi Vicky,

    what a wonderfull day for your "boys" :) .... I send you many hugs for your love about them, for your power, for your courage and for YOU!


  2. What a wonderful gift from Bridget. Bridget, if you are reading these comments, know that you have brought such happiness and joy to the Westras and to the friends and family who love them. Thank you so much!!!
    Vicky, I know how much it means to a Mother for her children and her husband to be happy. It makes the Mother happier than words could ever express. May Nolan continue to hold onto his dream. One day, I hope to be offering Nolan my outstretched arm...holding a pen toward him..... asking for his autograph.
    I love you all.

  3. What an extraordinary memory Nolan is going to have of this day. Best of all he's got the jersey to prove it :-)
    How truly generous of Bridget and Matt. I know first hand about passion in sports as Sweet Son is crazy about both soccer and hockey...
    Having young boys following their sports dreams is a very good thing indeed.
    Hugs and healing energy sent to you sweet friend :-)

  4. Vicky I am so glad that your boys had this opportunity. I could not help but cry when I read this as I know how much it would have meant. Funny how you and I started following each others blogs because of the hockey. So I thank your boys for bringing me in contact with such a loving and wonderful woman as yourself. It was great they could have that time. I hope you are feeling alright and thanks for this wonderful post. Really makes me believe in all the good people in the world. hugs.

  5. What an awesome gift Bridget gave Nolan and Rick. This must have been so exciting for Nolan. What a dream for a hockey-lovin' boy! I have a friend who loves hockey and his all time favorite player was Mario Lemieux.
    This all came at such a wonderful time it seems! My heart is very full after reading this. I'm so happy for all of you. And what a blessing Matt and Bridget are for all they do. So refreshing when people are so giving!:)

  6. Oh Vicky--It sounds like your boys were given a great "life memory!" I remember the joy I had in my heart when my family could have a few "cancer free" events! My prayers for you and your family continue!

  7. Enabling days like this for our kids is one of the special treats of being a parent!

    Look at his beaming, beautiful face! What an amazing adventure! I love that he got to get out of school for half a day, go to the city and then all of this dream-like hockey!

    Memory of a lifetime, indeed!

  8. A dream come true!... and yes, a normal day. I remember when my daughter was in very bad shape from a car accident.. I would sit at the hospital and watch people walking by me, have a "normal" day, with envy. I vowed if I ever had "normal" days again, I would not take them for granted.

    You remind me. Thank you.

  9. What a special day that was! And hanging with Mario? Too cool.

  10. What a thrill for all of you, really! This will be something that will never be forgotten; a day to remember forever!

  11. What a fantastic experience for your boy! Now I know nothing about hockey, so I don't recognize any of those names, but the look on his face says they're pretty important. :)

  12. Hi Vicky!
    I happened upon your blog and saw the hockey post. Years ago, I was at a hockey game in Philly with my pal and Herb Brooks was there. It was right after he coached the 1980 Olympic team. I passed up my program and he signed it for me! Very cool.

  13. Vicky, you can imagine the response of my boys when I showed them these pictures. "WAY COOL!!"


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