Bruises are part of a hockey player’s life – but not as many as Trip had after a game in 2012. His parents could tell something was wrong.
Within days, he had been diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer in the white blood cells. Even worse, Trip’s healthcare team told him he would be unable to play hockey or any other contact sport – perhaps ever again.
Trip’s father, Rick, said that piece of news devastated him even more than the diagnosis.
“The whole story was that he was told he would never play again,” Rick said.
It was hard to imagine Trip without hockey in his life – without putting on his goalie pads, barking orders to his teammates and making game-changing saves. But his treatments took a toll on his body, with chemotherapy breaking down the bone mass in his feet; the loss of bone mass meant no hockey, no running, not even walking. The entire family’s mood was somber as Trip struggled. At one point, he was in bed for three months.
But two incredible things happened that would change the course of his recovery.
Care for the Emotions and the Body
First, Trip found out that he was eligible for a wish. As much as he wanted a hockey-related wish, he wasn’t yet certain of his future in sports. Still, the possibility of anything beyond his medical treatments lifted his spirits.
Next came a successful medical procedure that restored the possibility of playing hockey. This prompted an elated Trip to wish for a backyard hockey rink. He had visions of being able to skate anywhere in his own backyard, at any time of the year.
It would be a new beginning … a celebration of possibilities previously lost returning to his life.
“He said he wanted to get back to where he was. He wanted to start, and that’s all he wanted. The rink idea came into action,” Rick told a local newspaper.
Community Spirit Makes Trip’s Wish Come True
Trip’s wish gave many people in his community a chance to shine.
Students at Farson-Eden High School raised funds through the Kids For Wish Kids® program. Then, local companies donated time and materials to build Trip’s backyard rink. Their effort brought people together to use their skills to change Trip’s life – and they’ll be part of his life in the years to come whenever he laces his skates up.
Together, they built a mini-rink with synthetic ice. Trip can skate on it with his familiar ice skates. And he can invite friends over so they can work on their hockey skills as a team. He even found some therapeutic benefits to skating again: The skates held his feet in just the right place to recover from his bone problems.
“It goes beyond just a wish. Hockey was therapy for him,” Rick said. “Every aspect of hockey for him has been something beyond just a game.”