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Wish Nation

Wish Kid Defies Odds and Defines Life on His Terms

Sam is no stranger to the hard road. Born with a serious heart condition, Sam has spent his life battling illness and proving people wrong. Most of all, Sam refuses to let anything get in the way of his active status as a hockey player.

His entire life people have been telling him what he can’t do. “No sports, no running, no bicycles.” But this hasn’t stopped Sam from lacing up the skates every chance he gets to play a game of hockey. The ice just seems to call to him and he can’t resist but to play the game. “[The doctors] have given up telling him no,” his mother, Lisa, told the Mercury News.

Sam portrays the character and class of a true hockey player. He carries himself with professionalism and humility, as a man who is to be respected and revered amongst his peers.

On March 18, 2014, the San Jose Sharks signed Sam to a one-day contract that supplied him with a space in the Sharks’ locker room, some morning practice time, and even an opportunity to skate out for warm ups during the same night’s game against the Florida Panthers.

Sam stood on the ice with his new teammates for the National Anthem. He looked stoic, ready to be called into action for the game ahead. But it was later in the game when they announced his name that Sam’s true feelings came forward. He stood on the bench as thousands of his fellow fans gave him a standing ovation, commemorating him on all he has been through, including his first day in the pros. Sam couldn’t help but to shed a few tears of gratitude. All around him he could feel the love and support from his city and his team. 

As a fellow hockey player, I was truly amazed when I saw the Greater Bay Area chapter and the San Jose Sharks put so much work into a wish. I felt Sam’s excitement as he skated through the Shark tunnel, and I knew his thankfulness when the crowd cheered for him. In his eyes and in my heart, it was easy for me to see that Sam’s day with the Sharks was a wish come true.

The Sharks did not win that night, but many players expressed their feelings on the night via twitter. Sharks’ forward, Brett Burns tweeted, “Tough game but amazing to see what hockey can do... Touching night to see Sam fly outta the shark...amazing experience at the tank.”

Hockey is a team sport. A family sport. The players, the coaches, the staff and fans all act as one in making a successful season. Sam loves the game of hockey, and Sam loves the San Jose Sharks – he’s a lifelong fan. It’s only fitting that the Sharks remind Sam that, as a part of their family, they support him, too. They raised him up and made him a part of the team. That’s what hockey is all about. 

Make-A-Wish thanks our NHL friends for all they do to change the lives of kids with life-threatening medical conditions. We're honoring their generosity by featuring two hockey wishes in Wish Nation during the first round of the Stanley Cup® playoffs.

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Wish Nation gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Make-A-Wish®. See how wishes come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish. And learn why we are so committed to someday granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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