ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — After 35 years in the community, Make-A-Wish Minnesota hit a milestone Sunday, granting its 5,000th wish.
It made for one very special day for a young hockey player, with the help of the Minnesota Wild.
Walking into Xcel Energy Center, out onto the bench, wearing the jersey of the hometown team is the dream of every young hockey player.
“It’s pretty astonishing,” said 16-year-old Carter Casey. “Means a lot.”
Casey is a hockey player from Breckenridge.
“I was a defenseman,” Casey said. But that all changed about 15 months ago.
“I really wish I could play but I can’t anymore. Because of my recent surgeries.”
Casey was diagnosed with a rare form of muscle cancer. It required an operation, then chemo and radiation, then still several more surgeries to get rid of the cancer. It’s been tough.
So Sunday, the Wild made him part of their team, signing him to a one-day contract, giving him a tour of the arena and letting him watch warmups from the penalty box.
And then, after watching the game, he was taken back to the locker room to meet all of the players.
Quite a thing for such a hockey-obsessed kid.
“I get mad at myself when I miss a game on TV,” Casey said. “Watching the Wild now after this is going to be even better, knowing I’ve met the players, and been down on the bench. It’s really sweet.”
“The smile on his face was priceless,” said Casey’s dad, Carl. “It really was.”
Because as tough as things have been, Carter’s big day today took place in the aftermath of just finding out some more bad news.
“We thought we had it,” Carl Casey said. “We had six weeks and a day of no doctoring. And he thought something was wrong in his stomach. So on February 20, we went and got a scan done, and it was back. This was supposed to be a celebration of (being) cancer free. But we’re not going to give up. We’ve got to keep fighting this. He’s a strong kid. Amazingly strong.”
Carter just re-started chemo on Wednesday.
“Looking forward to getting rid of it,” he said. “Beating it.”
So Sunday served as a big encouragement. A kid missing hockey because of cancer, given it back in such a big way.
“Just awesome,” Casey said. “Feeling like a part of the team.”
And now that he’s on the team, Casey has just one request.
“Stanley Cup,” he said with a laugh. “Get me a ring.”