10-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Takes Center Ice At Wild Game

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Fans at the Minnesota Wild game cheered for more than just the team Tuesday night. ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ was the theme of the game. It’s a night dedicated to raising funds and awareness in support of the fight against cancer.

‘I fight for’ signs lined the tunnel from the Wild locker room to the ice. Many of them were personal notes from the players.

Hockey Fights Cancer is about uniting patients, survivors, charities and families.

“Riley is 10 years old now, but at age four he was diagnosed with leukemia,” Dianna Helmberger said.

Helmberger watched her son Riley endure years of chemotherapy and physical therapy. Something that helped him through his diagnosis, hockey.

“Building my leg muscles and getting me through a lot,” Riley Helmberger said.

“One thing during chemo is it often tears down the muscles and affects their ability to bend and flex. Hockey is one of the things he loved doing so the more he did it the better it was for him,” Dianna Helmberger said.

Now three years out of treatment, Riley is a goalie. He took on another important job during Tuesday’s game, flag bearer.

“I really wanted to do this for a long time,” Riley said.

Dozens of individuals and companies donated tickets so that hundreds touched by cancer could fill the stands and enjoy a carefree night.

“This gives them a night out as far as a reprieve from what’s happening in their lives,” Kyle Loven with Computer Forensic Services said. The company donated tickets for the game.

The Helmbergers cherish the memories they get to make.

“It’s one of those things where we get time to celebrate. We’re one of the lucky families and that is important to us to celebrate and to enjoy all those moments that we can as a family,” Dianna Helmberger said.

The Wild teamed up with six cancer charities to highlight throughout the month of November.

The players wore special lavender jerseys during warmups Tuesday. The team is auctioning off the jerseys to benefit the Minnesota Wild Foundation starting Wednesday. Click here to learn other ways to donate and get involved.

More from Jennifer Mayerle
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