Auston Matthews walked into a room at Ritz-Carlton in Toronto carrying a cake with a lit candle, surprising young Maple Leafs fan Liam Emery on his 10th birthday as part of a Make-A-Wish experience during NHL All-Star Weekend.
Liam, who has leukemia, was overjoyed by the unexpected visit from his favorite player. Matthews brought him the cake and even sang “Happy Birthday” to him, creating a memory that exceeded Liam’s expectations.
In addition to Liam, four other children: Zackary Arsenault from St.-Jerome, Quebec; Logan Labelle from Vercheres, Quebec; Cohen Arnette from Wooster, Ohio; and Grayson Briones from Granger, Indiana, were also part of the VIP experience.
The surprise visit from Matthews brought sheer joy to Zackary, who described it as a “super cool” moment. His father, Steve Arsenault, shared the excitement and mentioned how this trip was a dream come true for Zackary, giving them a chance to escape from the difficulties they’ve faced due to his illness.
The Make-A-Wish children began their special weekend with a shopping spree at the NHL Fan Fair store, courtesy of Fanatics. They were also given personalized merchandise bundles, including All-Star Game jerseys.
Cohen, a big fan of NHL mascots, used the opportunity to collect plush stuffed toys of various mascots. His wish to meet the mascots also came true at the Mascot Dodgeball game during Fan Fair.
Liam purchased a Matthews Maple Leafs jersey and other items with the money from the shopping spree. His love for hockey and the Maple Leafs has been a much-needed distraction during his leukemia treatments.
Another highlight for the children was getting a close-up look at the prestigious Stanley Cup, brought early by Phil Pritchard from the Hockey Hall of Fame. The kids were thrilled to take photos and admire the Cup before the Fan Fair opened to the public.
This memorable weekend was made possible through the efforts of Make-A-Wish, Fanatics, and the NHL. The children and their families expressed their immense gratitude and cherished the once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
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