Maple Leafs fan diagnosed with cancer to meet her hero Auston Matthews next week
TORONTO -- A 71-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs fan who is dying of cancer will get the opportunity to meet her hockey hero Auston Matthews on Monday.
Lindsay, Ont. resident Donna Thomson was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in September 2019. Following the diagnosis, her friends and family decided to launch a campaign in hopes of connecting her with her favourite hockey player.
On Saturday morning, 33-year-old Grant Haire, a neighbour of Thomson’s sister who kick-started the campaign, said that he heard from the director of media relations with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The message said that Matthews had contacted the director and wanted to bring Thomson to an upcoming game.
“She is freaking out,” Haire said. “It’s going to be great to see her face.”
Haire said that he often watches hockey games with Thomson when she is at her sister’s house in Trenton, Ont. and that there is “no one better to watch hockey with.”
“She has a bell that she keeps with her and every time the Leafs score she gets up and rings the bell.”
“She loves the Leafs more than anything.”
Speaking with CTV News Toronto on Saturday afternoon after getting the news, Thomson said she is nervous about the meeting.
“I’m just so stunned,” she said. “How many people do you know that would, in his position, do what he’s doing.”
“I don’t know what I’m going to say. I know there is lots I’d like to say. I am a fan, I do think he is pretty cute and I like his style of play. He is a good player, he is not a dirty player and I love his smile and the mustache, even though everyone has teased him about the mustache, I like it.”
The hockey game will also be the first time Thomson watches the Maple Leafs—or any team for that matter—play live at a rink.
“It’s all very exciting. I just hope I make it through it,” Thomson said.
Thomson said that she has been a long-time devoted Maple Leafs fans. She said that her son gifted her a Matthews’ jersey for Christmas—and once she had the jersey she said her sister went out shopping for a couple of fake mustaches to wear with them. Photographs of her wearing the gear is what spearheaded Haire’s campaign.
Thomson and a couple of guests will be watching Monday night’s 7 p.m. game against the Edmonton Oilers from a suite with SickKids patient families.