February 17, 2013
Sidney Crosby scores huge smile from boy, 4, suffering with cancer
By DAN DAKIN, QMI Agency
ST. CATHARINES, ONT. - He was shy at first, but then came the smile, one that made everyone else smile too.
Standing there in front of little Rowan Langille was the guy whose name is on his favourite hockey stick. The guy who he watches playing his favourite sport on television. The guy who is easily his favourite NHL player.
Sidney Crosby crouched to eye level with the four-year-old boy fighting cancer that started in his brain and has spread to his spine. And the two smiled.
It was a special moment for everyone in the room.
“We've got some real Penguins fans here,” Crosby said as he looked at Rowan and his three siblings – all wearing Penguins ball caps or some piece of Penguins gear on them.
“What do you think Rowan, should I sign their stuff, too?” Crosby asked with a laugh.
The private meet and great with Sid the Kid was the highlight of a memorable day for the St. Catharines, Ont., boy and his family.
“It meant a lot,” said Rowan's mother, Ann Langille, who along with husband Shawn has been dealing with her son's disease since he was 18 months old.
“He had a huge smile on his face. It was wonderful.”
Knowing Pittsburgh is the NHL team of choice in the Langille household, family friend and Niagara real estate agent Karl Regier put the call out looking for tickets to be donated to Sunday's game between the Penguins and Sabres in Buffalo.
Modern Landfill and Walker Industries both offered up their 10 season tickets; Niagara Classic Transport donated a limousine bus for the day and Boston Pizza threw in dinner for the group when they returned home.
But to make things a bit more special for the terminally ill Rowan and his family, Sun Media newspaper the St. Catharines Standard contacted the media relations staff for the Penguins and Sabres to see if a personal meeting was possible.
Though Crosby typically never meets fans before a game – especially an afternoon game – he read Rowan's story and couldn't say no.
There wasn't enough time for a post-game meeting, so he made an exception and spent 10 minutes with the family Sunday morning at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.
Rowan's father Shawn said his son is a true Crosby fanatic.
“Sometimes you pick favourites and drop favourites, but he has stuck with him,” Shawn said. “That's his player.”
Adding to the day, the crew from the Niagara office of Peninsula Towing and the Department of Sport Management Alumni Advisory Board at Brock University donated enough money to pay for the family's breakfast after the meeting, as well as snacks and souvenirs.
Once the game started, Sabres staff delivered a puck signed earlier in the day by goalie Ryan Miller and Buffalo mascot Sabretooth stopped by for a visit.
For Rowan, sister Jocelyn, 12, and brothers Nathan, 10, and Logan, 7, it was an unforgettable day.
“He was having a good time – he was laughing, smiling and goofing around,” Shawn Langille said. “He had a good day, which is great.”
At times, when the pain in his back got to be too much, Rowan simply wanted his dad to pull him out of his wheelchair and hold him.
“I do everything I can to get him comfortable,” Shawn said.
When the tumour moved from Rowan's brain to his spine and began to grow, it crushed his spinal cord.
After having surgery five weeks ago he was given less than a 50% chance of ever walking again, and doctors told Shawn and Ann that worst-case scenario could be that their son would be dead in three weeks.
Rowan just keeps fighting.
“To see his smiling face today was great,” Shawn said. “We're trying just to keep him happy and occupied ... we're trying to do the most we can to have fun with him.”
Play by play of Rowan's day:
6 a.m. Rowan wakes up at home
7:45 a.m. Limousine bus leaves St. Catharines
9:45 a.m. Rowan and family meet Sidney Crosby
10:30 a.m. Breakfast at restaurant in Buffalo
12:30 p.m. Game starts
1:30 p.m. Sabres deliver autographed puck from goalie Ryan Miller
2:30 p.m. Rowan gets personal visit from mascot Sabretooth
3:30 p.m. Limo heads back to Niagara
5:30 p.m. Dinner for family at Boston Pizza in St. Catharines
7 p.m. Bedtime