ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Wild welcomed a new player Tuesday, but she has no experience on the ice.
Bridget Villebrun, 18, spent the last year fighting Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The Wild teamed up with Make-A-Wish Minnesota as part of “Hockey Fights Cancer” night to grant her wish of being with the team.
Last fall looked much different for teenager from Nett Lake. Doctors discovered a lump on her chest was Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
“The first week of treatment was during Halloween, so it was the first time I was away from home. And [my family] couldn’t come,” she said fighting back tears.
The next few months were spent in and out of the hospital. Hockey became a welcome distraction from the doctors. Games that couldn’t be watched in the hospital were recorded at home. The Villebrun’s didn’t miss a single game last season.
“It was tough there at first. Hockey took a lot of the scariness away for us to have a distraction,” David, her father, said. “She’d come sit down and we’d start talking about it more and more, helping her understand and she became a big fan.”
With the worst behind her, the Wild made Bridget’s wish come true. General Manager Chuck Fletcher surprised her with an official one day contract to join the organization. A personalized jersey and her own locker in the clubhouse added to the sweet surprise.
One by one, the players filed in to meet their new teammate, take some pictures and sign autographs.
“My favorite player is Mikael Granlund. I remember meeting Mikko Koivu and he came walking in. I didn’t know it was him until I was like ‘Woah, there he is!'” Bridget said with a smile.
Her latest PET scan revealed she beat one of life’s toughest opponents. And the team that helped her through treatment was happy to celebrate that victory with her.
“When someone likes watching or likes playing hockey and looks up to us, it’s pretty humbling,” Charlie Coyle said. “It’s nice to see her happy and giving us all the support she does. So we’re trying to give some back.”
The Wild wore purple jerseys for Hockey Fights Cancer night. Bridget, of course, was there to cheer them on.