“Mitch, I beat cancer.”
It’s the sign Brock Chessell drew up after he won tickets to the Toronto Maple Leafs game against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night at the Scotiabank Arena.
Clad in his favourite blue-and-white suit jacket, Brock stood up near the glass and flashed the sign as the players took to the ice for warm-up.
He was hoping it would catch the eye of his favourite Leafs player, Mitch Marner, but Brock wasn’t prepared for what came next.
The winger not only saw the sign but went over to the bench, signed a stick and skated it over to the young boy.
“I think the most special thing is he signed it,” Brock told Global News on Tuesday. “He picked me out and then gave it to me.”
Brock won the tickets and painted the sign last-minute, right before he and his family made the three-hour drive from their small town of St. Marys to Toronto.
“It was actually drying in the trunk on our way to Toronto — it was a last-minute thing. We just took a chance,” said Brock’s mom, Julie Chessell.
It was an unforgettable gesture for the 12-year-old boy, whom doctors said had little hope of winning his fight against cancer.
Julie said all 7,500 residents of St. Marys rallied around Brock after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 liver cancer — a disease that affects one in a million kids.
Brock received a liver transplant and was able to beat the odds — just like he wrote on the sign that caught Marner’s eye.
“It’s really special because they [the players] have to get in the zone and focus. But he [Marner] took time out to give me the stick,” Brock said.
He said the experience left him “amazed and excited.”
He will keep the stick beside his favourite suit — the blue-and-white one he wore to the game — an ode to Don Cherry, the broadcaster known for his colourful attire.
“I love the suit. It’s Maple Leafs colours so that’s a big reason,” said Brock. “And I wanted to look good, like Don Cherry.”
—With files from Tom Hayes