MONTREAL, QC. – It was Tuesday November 28, 1989, and everyone was hoping that Stelios would have a good day.
He had been hospitalized at Ste. Justine’s Hospital a couple of months earlier from complications due to pneumonia, and he had had some very bad days leading up to this day.
Stelios, my cousin, was born on November 4, 1973 and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy shortly thereafter. The lack of oxygen at birth caused the condition. He was wheelchair bound, and as such, he could not play any sports, but that didn’t stop him from loving hockey and loving the Habs.
Stelios was 11 years old when Chris Chelios joined the Montreal Canadiens in 1984, and he instantly fell in love with the Greek defenseman.
He watched as many games as he could so that he could see Chelios magically perform and he did so spectacularly.
Five years later, the family was waiting with great anticipation in the intensive care unit (ICU) where Stelios was resting.
Stelios was going to meet his hero and they knew this was going to make him very happy.
They were simply wishing that he would be having a good day.
Chris was asked by a family member if he could take time out of his busy schedule to visit one of his biggest fans who was very sick in the hospital. Chris said yes as long as he could be incognito. He didn’t want any fanfare, nor did he want any media.
Everyone obliged his wishes.
Chris arrived quietly and walked into Stelios’ room in the ICU. Stelios was so excited that he wanted to get up from his hospital bed to greet his hero.
Stelios was having a good day!
Alas he could not move. He was laying on his bed, relatively immobile, attached to his intravenous tube and all the other machines that were helping him get better.
Chris stayed and talked to Stelios for quite some time.
Chris presented Stelios with a poster of himself which he had signed and a hockey stick which the entire Montreal Canadiens team had signed on the shaft — Chelios’ autograph appeared on the blade.
Stelios was so happy that his smile illuminated the entire room and his big brown eyes glowed.
When the visit ended, Chris promised Stelios he would come back to visit him when the team made their annual hospital visit later in December, and to wait for him because he was going to bring him a signed jersey.
Stelios smiled and tried to say yes.
Unfortunately, Stelios never got the opportunity to see Chris Chelios again as he passed away on Wednesday December 13, 1989 at the tender age of sixteen, just fifteen days after Chris visited him.
The impact of seeing his hero, even for just a short time, kept him very happy for the remaining time in his short life.
No one will ever forget what Chris did for Stelios, and the family is forever indebted for making him very happy that day.
Chris Chelios is a hero in Stelios’ family and in my entire family.
Cerebral palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills (the ability to move in a coordinated and purposeful way). Cerebral palsy can also lead to other health issues, including vision, hearing, and speech problems, and learning disabilities.
CP is usually caused by brain damage that occurs before or during a child’s birth, or during the first three to five years of a child’s life. There is no cure for CP. For more information or to make a donation please visit http://www.cerebralpalsycanada.com/