We arrive at the arena at 6:30 p.m. We’re early so we are able to watch people file in and find their seats. We know several people coming through the doors so they stop by our seats to talk. Some sit in the rows behind us even though that’s not their assigned seat. Friends are giving Joey high fives as they all laugh and goof around together. Joey is visibly getting anxious. He keeps asking if it’s time…
7:10 p.m. finally comes. I walk Joey, my 12-year-old son, to the meeting spot. The U.S. Bank Arena employee hands me a waiver. I sign. He then leads us through the stadium and down toward the ice rink. As we walk down the steps some good friends see us. “JOEY!” they scream. They are all wearing Team Super Joey T-shirts. This makes him even more excited.
We get to the penalty box where the employee places a helmet on Joey and explains the process. First a beautiful girl with an amazing voice goes out on the ice to sing the National Anthem. Now it’s Joey’s turn.
With thousands of people watching, he heads out on the ice, remembering what all of his friends have said “don’t slip on the ice!” He gets to the center where the Cincinnati Cyclones mascot hands Joey the puck. The center from each team is there ready to go. Joey drops the ceremonial puck, shakes hands with the players, grabs the puck and heads off the ice.
While he was on the ice, the announcers tell his story:
Watch video: http://youtu.be/8ZMn8Jszyes
Every day, the experts at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital change the outcome for children and their families. One of those families is here tonight to share their story with Cyclones’ fans. Joey Holt was diagnosed with Langerhans Cell Histiocytocis, a cancer-like disease that causes the white blood cells to attacks bones or other organs, at 10 years old, which led to the disintegration of his hip bone. Joey underwent a bone graft, four months in a wheelchair and a year and a half in physical therapy and still deals with chronic pain periodically, but thanks to Cincinnati Children’s hospital, he can walk, run and do many other “kid” things.
Today, Joey is a happy 12-year old who attends Highlands Middle School, is a member of the school chess club, and “Odyssey of the Minds” team. Joey hopes his love of science leads him to find a cure for Histio someday. Joey’s family are big hockey fans, but this is Joey’s first game!
As we walk back up the steps people reached out to give joey five as they continued cheering him on. He was smiling ear to ear and beaming with excitement. We had a great time watching the game. At least 40 members of Team Super Joey were in the crowd. Several, including Joey, ended up on the jumbotron dancing with their blue Team Super Joey shirts on.
The entire night was a lot of fun ending with a Cyclones win and indoor fireworks. I don’t think Joey quit smiling the entire time we were there. His sister Andi and all of our friends had a great time too.