Twelve-year-old Tyler checks his new skates then surveys the vast expanse of the rink. He fishes a hockey puck from his equipment bag and tosses it onto the synthetic ice under his feet. His heartbeat quickens – the game is on!
An avid Boston Bruins fan and hockey player, Tyler has felt at home on the ice from a very young age. In 2011, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and his life changed dramatically. With an intense treatment regimen ahead of him, there was no more hockey, no more school, and no more outside time. Life for him became a frightening reality of needles, surgeries, and chemotherapy.
Tyler knew exactly what he wanted for his wish: a synthetic hockey rink in his backyard like the ones he saw in his sports magazines, so through it all, he could continue to do what he loved - skate. Not only would having his wish granted give a boost to Tyler’s moral, but it would help him to regain his strength and stamina, and even serve as much needed physical therapy for his drop foot, a rare long term side effect of his treatment.
The community rallied around Tyler to turn his unique wish into a reality. He watched in awe as countless volunteers, including nearly a dozen local businesses, worked together to secure permits, prepare the yard, pour gravel, cut lumber, create the goals and sideboards, and build his dream rink.
On the day of the rink’s unveiling, more than 100 community members, including the Bruin’s Ice Girls and mascot, came to support Tyler. From a ceremonial ribbon cutting to a victory lap around the ice, Tyler smiled with gratitude, excitement, and sheer joy over his wish come true. He even received new hockey equipment!
Today, Tyler has finished treatment and remains strong. He has returned to playing hockey on his local team. His rink is a standing monument to his wish and his recovery, and he continues to use it to bring the community together, hosting local hockey games with family and friends.