Carey Price surprises 11-year-old Brantford boy, who lost mom to cancer, at NHL Awards
Kayla Goodfield, CTV News Toronto
Published Thursday, June 20, 2019 9:22AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 20, 2019 8:09PM EDT
While accepting the award for best feel good moment of the year at the 2019 NHL Awards, an 11-year-old Canadian boy became overwhelmed with emotion on stage as his hero surprised him once again.
In front of thousands of people, Anderson Whitehead, from Brantford, Ont., walked up on stage with a smile on his face to be honoured for a moment he’ll never forget.
Anderson Whitehead lost his mother to cancer in November 2018. Before she died, Laura Whitehead told her young son she would do everything in her power to ensure he would one day meet his favourite hockey player, Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price.
That dream then became a reality.
The Whitehead family contacted the trainer of the Canadiens through a mutual acquaintance and was able to arrange for Anderson Whitehead and his father to watch the team’s morning skate at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on February 28.
As Price was getting off the ice at the end of practice, he approached the 11-year-old and gave him a big hug. He signed the boy’s shirt, hockey stick and a hockey puck.
Video of the interaction showed Anderson Whitehead crying while resting his head on Price’s shoulder.
Price whispered “it will be OK” to the boy.
He echoed that message in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, which was posted to the NHL’s Twitter account.
Anderson Whitehead was called to the stage at the award ceremony as it was announced that his special interaction won the NHL fan choice award for the best feel good moment of the year. Wearing a suit and a big smile, the boy walked up to the stage alone.
“I had my own seat there and when I went there all I knew was that they were giving a cheque to Hockey Fights Cancer,” Anderson Whitehead said while speaking with CTV News Toronto over FaceTime on Thursday morning.
“I walked out from my seat and then I walked down to the front of the stage and then from the front then I walked to the left then I walked up some stairs to get to the microphone.”
A video of Price then began to play where he said, “Hey Anderson, hope you’re enjoying Vegas. I just wanted to say that your mother was a special person and sharing that moment with you is something I will always remember for the rest of my life – it was very special to me.”
Price then pauses briefly before saying “hold up, hold up, hold up.”
A confused Anderson Whitehead, who said his mind went “blank,” looked around the venue before spotting his idol walking out on stage holding a hockey jersey for the 11-year-old.
The pair then hugged and Price is heard whispering “Everything is alright, bud. Everything is OK. We are going to have fun here, OK?”
The 31-year-old, who has appeared in seven NHL All-Star Games, then asked the crowd to applaud for the young boy. Price then handed over the jersey and Anderson Whitehead thanked him while holding back tears.
“I never thought I would meet him and now to be able to meet him twice in person and talk to him was really surprising,” the boy said.
But, the surprises weren’t over yet.
Price asked the boy if he would like to attend next year’s NHL All-Star Game, to which Anderson Whitehead replied by simply saying “yes.”
The pair then hugged again and walked off the stage together.
The boy’s father said the hockey superstar wants to stay in touch with their family.
“He met with us for over an hour after the event last night,” he said. “It was the first time he left his six-month old baby alone at home with family so he and his wife could fly in yesterday morning and then they were flying out this morning to get home again.”
“They kept it totally secret, it was just amazing.”
The 2020 NHL All-Star Game is scheduled to take place in St. Louis, Missouri on January 26.