“I love you, Chára!” Young TJ’s voice sings out in the locker room and he’s soon enveloped in a bear hug from his favorite Boston Bruins player, Zdeno Chára. TJ continues his post-game, behind-the-scenes tour with Chára, meeting Patrice Bergeron and other players and coaches. His eyes shine as he clutches his personalized jersey, now full of autographs.
This mighty Bruins fan is brave beyond his years. At age two, TJ began having twitches and doctors told his family he would grow out of them. When he was six, he experienced his first seizure and was soon diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. At that time, tests showed that he was having over 50 seizures a day. The ensuing seven years have been a rollercoaster of hospital stays and medications, improvements and setbacks.
It is grueling, yet, “TJ won’t let his health problems hold him down,” says his dad, Tim. “No matter what is going on, he will bring a smile to your face.”
In fact, thanks to his love of the Bruins, TJ smiles on every trip to the hospital for appointments. As soon as TD Garden, home of the Bruins, comes into view on the train ride, “TJ smiles and starts talking about the Bruins. It totally lifts him up and he stops thinking about the procedure that will be happening that day.” Given this, when TJ’s doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital referred TJ for a wish, Tim wasn’t surprised that his son chose to meet the Bruins.
“Make-A-Wish gave my son something we’d never be able to give him,” says Tim. In addition to his VIP tour, TJ sat on the Bruins’ bench during pregame warmups, high-fived players as they came to the ice for the game, and watched the game from Bergeron’s private suite. He saw himself on the jumbotron twice, and even visited the production room to choose a song that was played during the game.
Through his wish and the generosity of Make-A-Wish donors and the Boston Bruins, TJ was made to feel part of the team whose tenacity inspires him so much – and no doubt inspired the team with his own courage and strength.