After a cancer survivor was bullied while watching the Edmonton Oilers game in Los Angeles last weekend, the fan bases in both cities turned it into an opportunity to raise money for sick children.
Last week, Global News brought you the story of Cecily Eklund, a 10-year-old cancer survivor who has raised nearly $100,000 for children with cancer.
The Ben Stelter fund gifted Cecily a trip to L.A. to cheer on the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of Round 1 of the playoffs.
Mom Cathy Eklund said the trip was overall great but during the game, “L.A. was definitely a hostile environment.”
“There was a fight just two rows in front of Cecily, she was spit on, sworn at,” said Eklund.
“It wasn’t the best experience, but it’s also very important to remember that a couple fans don’t represent the whole fanbase.”
Oiler Evander Kane, who calls Cecily his dear friend, brought attention to the incident on social media Tuesday.
“This type of behaviour is gross and completely unacceptable,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Grow up, and as this smart young lady always says, be kind.”
In his Instagram stories on Tuesday morning, Kane also shared screenshots of a vulgar direct message he says he received.
“Maybe you should be kind and not be such a f—–g scum bag,” the message stated. “We Kings fans literally hate you. You made us spit on kids for being a dirty mother f—-r. Listen to your own words and be kind. You f—-n scum bag.”
Global News has reached out to Mercedes-Benz of Escondido, a car dealership north of San Diego, which confirmed Tuesday evening an employee with the same name no longer works for the company.
The person’s Instagram account also appears to have been deleted.
As the controversy picked up steam on social media feeds, L.A. Kings fans posted Cecily’s Stollery donation page online and encouraged others to donate.
“Let’s show her what real Kings fan are like,” said Twitter user ZachtheKingsFan.
Eklund said Kings fans had donated more than $7,000 to Cecily’s Stollery page by around 4 p.m. Tuesday.
“Not all kings fans are toxic, very few of us are. That lady doesn’t represent us and we don’t claim her,” read a donation note from LAKingsTalk1199.
“Real Kings fans are rooting for you,” said a supporter that donated $25.
“We support you! Love from the Kings fanbase.”
Oilers fans certainly turned out to support the girl’s fundraising efforts too.
“Cecily, sorry to hear what happened to you in L.A. So proud of how you are focusing on the positive,” said an Oilers fan who donated $100.
Mike Altieri, senior vice-president of marketing, communications and content for the Kings, said after seeing posts on social media, the club looked into the incident.
“Unfortunately the incident was not reported to security,” said Altieri.
“That being said, we are certainly concerned with the behaviour and incident, assuming it is all true.”
Altieri said he encourages fans to continue donating to Cecily’s fundraiser.
Cecily and her mom were at Rogers Place to cheer on the Oilers in Game 5 Tuesday, in what will surely be a more amicable environment.
“(Cecily is) doing good and just knowing so many people are supporting her is just absolutely wonderful,” said Eklund.
— With files from Karen Bartko, Global News