Crosby charms three year old with cancer dur­ing Hal­i­fax hos­pi­tal visit

Cape Breton Post - - Province/Atlantic -

A three-year-old girl bat­tling leukemia could be a Pitts­burgh Pen­guins fan in the mak­ing af­ter Sid­ney Crosby placed her plush, toy pink kit­ten atop the Stan­ley Cup in her Hal­i­fax hos­pi­tal room.

The NHL star wel­comed the Cup to his na­tive Nova Sco­tia for a third time this week­end, sur­pris­ing fans of all ages as he made the rounds in Hal­i­fax with the tro­phy in tow.

So­cial me­dia posts show the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins captain show­ing off pro­fes­sional hockey’s most pres­ti­gious tro­phy at a farm­ers’ mar­ket, a vet­er­ans’ re­tire­ment home and a chil­dren’s hos­pi­tal Sun­day.

Robbie Hall said he and his three-year-old daugh­ter, Harper Saun­ders, were tak­ing a nap in her hos­pi­tal room when a nurse woke him up to let him know that Crosby was on his way.

“She loves hockey, but she’s too young to un­der­stand who (Crosby) is,’’ Hall said in an in­ter­view. “She’s kind of grumpy when I wake her up, so I told her, ‘Do you want to meet a su­per hockey player?’’’

Hall said Harper has been in and out of hos­pi­tal since she was di­ag­nosed with leukemia in May. He and Harper’s mother, Reba Saun­ders, have been trav­el­ling back and forth from Wood­stock, N.B., to Hal­i­fax for about a month while the tod­dler re­ceives treat­ment at the IWK Health Cen­tre.

Harper has been ad­just­ing to a new feed­ing tube in re­cent days, Hall said, but she perked up dur­ing Crosby’s visit Sun­day, run­ning in and out of her room as she waited for the ball-capped hockey star to make his way down the hall.

Hall said when the three-time Stan­ley Cup cham­pion ar­rived, Harper seemed a lit­tle starstuck.

“She was a lit­tle shy, but she was ex­cited at the same time,’’ he said. “I tried to get her to stand be­side the cup, be­cause it’s taller than her, but she didn’t want to be on her own there.’’

Crosby tried to put her at ease by putting one of her favourite toys _ a pink kit­ten named So­phie _ on the Cup’s rim, Hall said.

A photo of the en­counter has been shared hun­dreds of times on so­cial me­dia, in­clud­ing the Help­ing Harper Face­book page.

“There’s a lot of hockey fans where we come from, so they were all a lit­tle ex­cited and jeal­ous,’’ Hall said. “They were happy to see it hap­pen to her af­ter ev­ery­thing that’s been go­ing on.’’

Crosby au­to­graphed a pint­sized hockey stick for the young­ster, which Harper has been show­ing off to all the nurses, Hall said.

“It’ll be a good story once she gets older,’’ he said. “We just might have a Pen­guins fan.’’

Crosby will cel­e­brate his 30th birthday on Mon­day by parad­ing the tro­phy through Hal­i­fax and Ri­mouski, Que.

He has brought the Cup to his home­town of Cole Har­bour, N.S., twice be­fore, in­clud­ing in 2009 and last July.

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