Matthew Hagerty could soon become the most popular kid in all of Conception Bay South.
Through his wish to the Children’s Wish Foundation, the 14-year-old will have a 45’x65’ multipurpose asphalt court installed in his own backyard this summer.
“I’ll be able to look out my window and see a shining court to play on every morning,” says Hagerty.
“Dad says we might have to get some new security systems in case people come to play at night.”
Hagerty, who has lived with cystic fibrosis his whole life, says he could have made a typical wish, like going to meet his favourite baseball or hockey player, but he chose something that would last.
“I wanted something I could have for the rest of me life so it’ll be a longer lasting experience than just going for a week and seeing a great baseball player or hockey player,” says Hagerty, who is anxious to share his wish with family and friends.
“I really wanted it to benefit a lot more people than just me, because that way it’s way more fun.”
The court will be set up for basketball and other sports, but Hagerty says more often than not, he and his friends will use it to play ball hockey.
“The main focus is hockey, “ he says, “because I want the lines drawn on it.”
Cystic fibrosis is a disorder which affects lung health and how the pancreas breaks down food, but Hagerty has never let it slow him down. In addition to playing basketball and street hockey, he also plays baseball with the C.B.S. AAA Raiders and recently returned home from the Mary Tavenor minor baseball tournament in Corner Brook.
“Aside from not being able to play ice hockey because my lungs were weak and if I got hit, it could hurt them, it hasn’t affected my everyday life that much,” says the plucky teenager, who plays between the pipes in street hockey.
“I still have fun, go out with friends, they don’t see me any differently, they just see me as Matt Hags.”
Plenty of assists on this play
Hagerty’s wish is being funded by the Children’s Wish Foundation, who themselves are receiving some charitable assistance through the Coldwell Banker Pro Co Community Pledge for Charity.
This year’s initiative, being championed by real estate agents Gavon Russell and Roger Kennedy, involves a partnership with the Xtreme Hockey League, a recreational summer circuit aimed at giving local pros, minor pros, major junior and junior A players a good skate during the off-season.
Among the players who regularly skate in the league are Bonavista native and newly acquired Buffalo Sabres defenceman Adam Pardy, San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, European pros Rodi Short and Mark Lee, and countless major junior, junior A and senior hockey league players. On hand for the season openers Tuesday night were the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Teddy Purcell and former NHL rearguard John Slaney.
“It’s a shinny game compared to an actual in season game, but this is where you’re going to see Teddy do a toe drag and then go top corner,” says Kennedy, a former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League goalie who also plays in the league.
“Those moments you see once every five games, you’ll see four or five times a game down here.”
Throughout the summer, anyone who wishes to attend one of the league’s games at Jack Byrne Arena, instead of being as to pay an admission fee, patrons will be asked to make a donation to the Children’s Wish Foundation. There will also be tickets sold on autographed jerseys from Clowe and Purcell.
“It’s great to put a smile on someone’s face, especially someone like Matthew,” says Kennedy. “He’ll never forget this day.”
Donations won’t just go towards making Hagerty’s wish come true, they’ll also help make more wishes come true for other kids.
“It’s a real help from Xtreme Hockey, Coldwell Banker Pro Co, and Children’s Wish,” says Hagerty.
“If you can give any little thing, even a toonie would be great. It’s really hard to do so many wishes for so many great people, so any donation can help.”