"There's so much more to life than sports:" Blackhawks make leukemia survivor's wishes come true
The Blackhawks haven't been winners on the ice very often this season, but they certainly won the hearts of a 6-year-old boy and his family at the United Center on Friday.
Luca Bear Bish, who is in remission after a 3½-year battle with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, joined the Hawks on the ice during morning skate, talked and skated with Patrick Kane and was signed to a one-day contract by GM Kyle Davidson in the UC press lounge as part of the Make-A-Wish program.
"He's an inspiration -- not only to our players (and) the organization -- but to everyone that carries his story," Davidson said. "We're really excited to have him here. He's a big Blackhawks fan."
The past couple of years have been tough for the Hawks, who have had to deal with an ugly sexual abuse scandal and a public tirade by owner Rocky Wirtz.
Still, behind the scenes there are some great people who understand what days like this mean to a family who has endured so much stress and heartache.
Luca, who grew up in San Diego, California and was diagnosed with cancer after a family trip to Jamaica in March 2019, was the center of attention for much of the morning.
After being introduced to the entire team, Luca -- wearing an '88 Bish' sweater -- hopped on the ice and chatted with Kane. He then tentatively skated over to a net and attempted to put a few pucks past goalie Petr Mrazek.
Mrazek accidentally made a few saves ("I got down a bit too early," he joked), but then saw shot after shot find the back of the net.
Kane sat with Luca at his locker stall, doing his best to chat with the shy youngster. Now a father himself, experiences like this take on a whole new meaning for the Hawks' star forward.
"Obviously I have a little boy as well and he's 2 years old now," Kane said. "So he's starting to get into things like playing hockey and sports and just running around and stuff, and that's the best part of life for sure. You never want to see any little kid struggle with anything ... so it was nice to have him here today.
"Make-A-Wish did a great job."
Luca's day was far from over as he attended the Hawks' 2-0 victory over Arizona and was featured on the scoreboard during pregame festivities. Emcee Jon Hansen implored the fans to help Luca bellow out "Let's go Hawks!" after a count of three.
Apparently inspired by Luca's story, they most definitely delivered.
At a time where there's too much suffering, angst and bickering, these are the moments that should inspire us all. The fact that it came shortly after the miraculous recovery of Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin was not at all lost on Davidson.
"With the football game and having Luca here, you realize there's so much more to life than sports," Davidson said. "This isn't just about inspiring a hockey team. This is inspiring everyone in everyday life.
"To see how excited (Luca) is to meet some of his heroes, it's pretty special."