Thirteen-year-old Riley grew up in a hockey-crazed family, spending many hours with his father, uncle and cousin watching, playing, and discussing hockey. But he is not letting cancer hold him back from playing his favorite sport.
There have been plenty of moments of anxiety and frustration for Riley since he was diagnosed with cancer. But through the efforts of Make-A-Wish® Minnesota, Riley put his worries aside when he recently traveled to Detroit to skate with his favorite NHL player, Detroit Red Wings center, Pavel Datsyuk.
Riley was in awe as he skated amongst some of the best players hockey has ever seen - most of whom gave him fist bumps and stick taps. Riley was allowed to participate in warm ups, some passing drills and some shooting drills. Riley and Datsyuk did some light passing which evolved into a little competitive keep away and one-on-ones. Datsyuk offered Riley some meaningful advice on skating instruction, shooting instruction and general puck control. He even gave Riley some insight on how he does that gentle puck flip over the goalie on shootouts.
Riley capped off his unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime experience by attending the game the next night to cheer on the Detroit Red Wings as they played against the Washington Capitals.