A 13-year-old cancer patient's Canes dream come true
Posted February 13, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009
Raleigh, N.C. — A 13-year-old cancer patient's wish to hang out with the Carolina Hurricanes came true while, at home, his parents were making his perfect day even better.
The Make-a-Wish Foundation brought Connor Johnson, who has fought non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, to a Carolina Hurricanes practice.
At first, he watched with a teenager's nonchalance.
"(It) seems kind of like my practice before it begins," Connor said.
But soon, he confessed that he was thinking of what he would tell his friends at his next hockey practice.
"I'm just going to rub it in their faces – no school, got to watch a Hurricanes practice," he said.
Connor's comfort, though, belied the fact that he's already gone through more than most adults have. When the Hurricanes' Cam Ward told him, "You're looking good, bud," Connor responded, "Last treatment two weeks ago."
After battling a cancer that attacks the immune system, Connor wasn't intimated by palling around with hockey stars.
He squirted a water bottle at Eric Staal. Inside the locker room, Rod Brind'Amour held scissors up to Connor's hair and suggested, "You need a hair cut, I think."
Meanwhile, his parents were fulfilling another of Connor's wishes – turning his bedroom into a Canes hideaway, just as he'd envisioned while in the hospital.
"We would use the potential of Make-a-Wish to distract him, to help him dream about something and take his mind off of what was going on," his mother, Jamie Johnson, said. "To see it all coming together in the vision that he wanted is wonderful."
Canes players Matt Cullen and Justin Williams even came home with Connor to play hockey video games with him on his new television.
The team also gave Connor 22 tickets to Saturday's game and an autographed hockey stick.
After all that, even a stoic 13-year-old couldn't keep it in.
"It's awesome," Connor said. "Thank you! Thank you so much."