He was a bright light that captured the heart of a city and on Friday, Edmontonians will have an opportunity to say farewell to six-year-old Oilers fan Benjamin (Ben) Bruce Stelter.
Ben became a rallying point for the Oilers this past season: a good luck charm of sorts as they advanced through the playoffs. He died of an aggressive glioblastoma brain tumour last week.
The Oilers pledged before the start of the 2021-22 season they would play the song La Bamba after every win at Rogers Place, in honour of long-time locker room assistant Joey Moss.
Earlier this year, Ben became a household name, known for cheering on the team to win and “Play La Bamba, baby!”
Several players developed relationships with the cancer-stricken child, including captain Connor McDavid, who spoke last week about the loss.
“It was something that I certainly won’t forget. He was an amazing little guy who lit up every single room he was in — certainly lit up our room when he was in there,” McDavid said.
On Friday morning, a procession will allow the public to say farewell.
It will leave Park Memorial Funeral Home on 111 Avenue and 97 Street at 10 a.m., driving south to Rogers Place.
Along 104 Avenue under Ford Hall, fans are invited to gather and wave goodbye to Ben.
Organizer Ashif Mawji said Ben posters will be handed out by the Kids with Cancer Society to the first thousand people, who are all asked to arrive by 9:45 a.m.
There will be special vehicles and guest accompanying the procession, he said.
“This is so great. Ben would absolutely love this,” his father Mike Stelter said of the public farewell.
A spokesperson for the team said members of the Oilers and OEG “will be in attendance to celebrate Ben’s life and show our support for Ben’s family.”
Ben’s funeral will take place at Hope City Church in south Edmonton at 11:30 a.m., and his dad shared a livestream link where the celebration of life can be watched.
In Ben’s obituary, his family thanked the doctors, nurses and team at the Stollery Children’s Hospital for caring for Ben “with such love,” and said donations can be made in his name to the Edmonton hospital.