A 21-year-old athlete and a 6-year-old girl … friends. Mitch Marner is a magician with the puck in the National Hockey League. Hayden Foulon has battled leukemia for most of her life. They’re each other’s heroes.
Mitch met Hayden in 2015 when he played Junior hockey for the London Knights. He and some teammates visited kids at the Children’s Hospital. And a bond with a very young human being was formed.
“She is my hero,” Marner said, his eyes welling up. “What she has gone through and the way she has fought in her brief life is an inspiration for all of us. All I want to do is try to bring some happiness to her life any way I can.”
He gets it. This life is not about fame and money and status. It’s about love. It’s about looking over there and seeing a person who’s undoubtedly dealing with some big issue – whether it’s health, self-esteem, relationships, money or the death of a loved one. They need our presence. Not necessarily wise words. Just being there.
On tonight’s hockey telecast, we saw a video message from Hayden to Mitch:
“I love you, Mitch. I miss you. Please score a goal for me tonight.” And then she blew him a kiss. I bet millions of us were pulling for him to put a puck in the net for Hayden. I had all my digits crossed every time Marner took a shot. Alas, no goal. But look what did happen: Hayden got to watch her hero. Mitch got to think about his. And we at home were warmed by their friendship.
Oh, how powerful we can be.