January 16, 2012
Boy sponsors Canadian skierWatches favourite athlete compete in Switzerland
By KATIE SCHNEIDER, QMI Agency
CALGARY - It took $149.39 saved up in his piggy bank, but for a Calgary boy watching his favourite skier compete in Switzerland as his pint-sized sponsor was priceless.
Gage Ferguson, 8, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, warmed the hearts of the ski world Sunday when he was unveiled as the sponsor of Calgary-based slalom ace Brad Spence at the Swiss World Cup in Wengen, Switzerland.
Ferguson, who met Spence, 27, after the 2010 Winter Olympics, began saving money when he learned his hero was looking for a “headgear sponsor.”
The student at Calgary Academy sent a letter and video to Spence asking if he’d make his dream come true. On Dec. 23, the skier said he’d grant the boy’s Christmas wish, arranging to wear a special helmet sticker bearing his name. KLM flew the boy and his family to Switzerland for the 82nd International Lauberhorn event and Sunday, Ferguson saw the World Cup slalom race from the finish area.
“It was great — the best,” Ferguson said. “It’s like having a birthday in Switzerland. It’s awesome. Coolio-cool and awesomest-awesome.”
Spence, who finished 21st in Sunday’s slalom, got a big hug from his young fan at the bottom of the hill.
“When I poked my head around the corner (at the finish line) he was just kind of buzzing with excitement,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll forget that feeling for a long time.”
He said giving the boy the chance to be his sponsor without the monetary value involved was special to him in a world where sponsorship is closely tied to corporations.
“It was an opportunity to show him that’s anything possible if you have a dream.”
On Twitter: @SUNkschneider