They made the dreams of all Blackhawks fans come true again when they clinched the Stanley Cup in 2010, but many people don't know that Chicago Blackhawks players been quietly bringing dreams to reality for local children with life-threatening medical conditions for nearly 25 years.
When the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois was still a relatively new charity, Chicago Blackhawks players Ed Belfour and Chris Chelios stepped up to support the organization by being a part of the very first Celebrity Golf Outing to benefit the chapter. After being inspired by the courageous children he met through these events and wishes to meet the Blackhawks, Belfour went so far as to have the Make-A-Wish logo added to his goalie helmet. When Belfour went to play for Dallas and they won the Stanley Cup, he made it a point to bring the cup back to Chicago so that he could share it with his fans, including Make-A-Wish kids.
Chris Chelios also stayed involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois even after his career took him to other cities. Attending local events, making contributions through his Cheli's Children's Foundation and meeting wish kids in other cities, Chelios continues to make wishes come true.
Wish child Michael Goldfine of Long Grove attended the first game of this season where the championship banner was raised. He was able to meet many of the current players and Blackhawks legend Bobby Hull. Michael's family still talks about his amazing experience and how it helped lift his spirits at a critical time during his treatment for Leukemia.
Through the years many other Blackhawks players have become involved in supporting the Foundation through granting wishes or appearing at fundraising events including Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull, Alexi Zhamnov and the 2010/2011 team which has hosted two wish children already this season.
"The Blackhawks are proud to be partners with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois," Blackhawks Senior Director, Market Development and Community Affairs Pete Hassen said. "Our players, coaches and front office executives are willing to do anything it takes for those wishes to become reality, we are honored to partner with such a wonderful organization. The Chicago Blackhawks have accomplished a great deal if we allow the children to forget what they are going through for just a few moments."
While they may be tough and aggressive on the ice, Chicago Blackhawks players are some of the most kindhearted athletes in a town serious about its professional sports teams. So many children have had magical experiences because of their support, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation looks forward to many years of making wishes come true with the Chicago Blackhawks as we continue the joy for children with life-threatening medical conditions. They are truly Leaders in Joy.
More than 10,000 children have been granted a wish by Make-A-Wish Illinois.