Nova Scotia hockey hero Sidney Crosby made dreams come true for a 12-year-old Colorado girl living with brain cancer, when he met her and gave her an autograph after a game in Denver on Feb. 9.
Danjela Belo was diagnosed with brain cancer last year, the family told KUSA, and after the seven-centimetre tumour on her brain burst last summer, they didn’t think she would survive surgery.
“When she had that surgery, they told us that night that she was not expected to survive that night,” her mother Jennifer said.
But Danjela wasn’t going to let the cancer slow her down, and fought through the surgery and chemotherapy treatments, all the while keeping up with her favourite hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“She was in the hospital when the Penguins went to the Stanley Cup finals. So we always kind of joked about that. And then, they won the Stanley Cup the week she started her treatment,” her father Marc told KUSA.
As if finishing her treatment wasn’t reward enough, Danjela and her family were given tickets to see the Penguins face off against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver, courtesy of charity Hinton Heroes.
Dressed in a Crosby jersey, Penguins headscarf and a big smile, Danjela sat right on the glass and watched her team of heroes win 4-1 against the Avalanche.
“I am a brain cancer champion, here to see my Stanley Cup champions!” read her bright yellow sign.
After the game, she got to meet her heroes, including Sidney Crosby, Marc-André Fleury of the Penguins and Gabriel Landeskog of the Avalanche as well as other players.
“Stay strong Danjela. Thanks for cheering us on last night.” and “Danjela, you’re the real champion,” the hockey team tweeted the next day.
Team spokesperson Jennifer Bullanl told Global News Tuesday the bright yellow sign was spotted from the stands, and that’s when they decided to surprise the family with post-game passes, letting them greet the players as they headed to the bus.
“Sid’s really great about things like that,” Bullanl said. “He never likes it to just be a quick handshake and a hello, he always invests and he meets people and she was no different, so he did take the time to chat with her.”
Bullanl said it’s a humbling experience for the team to take time out of their busy days to meet people and acknowledge the “little things.”
“Especially when it’s a child, it really hits home and makes you realize, you know, how important just a little bit of time is. And so giving some time to her costs us nothing, it was a great time and a great moment for everyone and I think the guys get just as much out of it as she does,” she said.
Danjela’s eye-catching poster is filled with signatures from players on both teams, and she also has a hockey stick signed by Landeskog.
— With files from Alex Maveal, Global News.