CLEVELAND - The Lake Erie Monsters’ roster will feature one extra name this Friday for the team’s home game vs. the Manitoba Moose. The Monsters, along with their NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, will sign four year-old Brunswick resident Robert Gibson to a one-day contract to fulfill Gibson’s wish through the A Special Wish Foundation.
Gibson was born via emergency C-section and began his life in a very traumatic way, resulting in the passing of his twin brother, Michael Charles, and irreversible damage to his kidneys. On the fourth day of his life, he underwent the first of what became a series of 14 surgeries to date. After an successful kidney transplant, and additional complications stemming from a rare form of pneumonia, Gibson spent seven months in and out of the hospital. To this day, he still struggles with his immune system and must be monitored to ensure his day-to-day renal function.
While Gibson’s medical challenges have been profound and numerous, they are not what defines him. He is an energetic, excitable four year-old with a passion for life and all its joys. He is compassionate, loving and kind and he absolutely loves the Lake Erie Monsters and playing and watching the sport of hockey. It is with this passion and exuberance in mind that this little boy's wish is to become a "Lake Erie Monsters Player for a Day.” The Monsters and Blue Jackets, in conjunction with the A Special Wish Foundation, have committed to make Robert’s wish come true.
"We are so grateful and proud to be working with the Lake Erie Monsters. When they heard about Rob's wish to be a ‘Monster,’ the entire organization really stepped up and took his wish to an entire new level," said Jason Beudert, co-founder of the Cleveland Chapter of the A Special Wish Foundation.
Robert’s exciting weekend will begin when Gibson and his family will meet Monsters captain Ryan Craig at Dick’s Sporting Goods to get geared up for the big day. Craig will help outfit Gibson with new skates, equipment and a stick to make sure he is all set for his pro hockey adventure.
Friday morning, Gibson will join the team for their morning skate with the team and will suit up for practice and even fire some shots on goal.
“Robert is as brave a kid as there is and the determination and heart he’s shown to battle through the obstacles he’s faced is inspiring to me and to our team,” said Monsters Head Coach Jared Bednar. “We are extremely excited to welcome Robert to the Monsters on Friday.”
After morning skate, Gibson’s signing will be formally announced to local media during his press conference with Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Bill Zito, where he will sign his one-day NHL Contract. This exciting moment will be streamed live on the Monsters’ Facebook page.
“We’re extremely excited to welcome Robert to our team,” said Columbus Blue Jackets Assistant General Manager Bill Zito. “He’s a courageous young man who has displayed great determination and strength and those attributes help make him a great addition to our organization.”
When Gibson returns to The Q for Friday’s game, he will enter the Lake Erie dressing room as an official Monsters player. He will suit up in his own stall in the team’s locker room and prepare alongside his teammates to take the ice for player introductions and the in-arena announcement of the team’s starting lineup. Gibson will then have the opportunity to watch the game with his family and hopefully celebrate a Monsters win with the team at the end of the night.
"We are so grateful to A Special Wish and the Lake Erie Monsters for making our son smile bigger than we could have ever hoped for,” said Beth Gibson, Robert’s mother. “While he has been through a lot in his short life, we know this experience will be something he will treasure forever…We can't say thank you enough and I don't think we will ever be able to truly articulate what this means to us and him. For him to feel this special is a parent's dream come true.”
About A Special Wish Foundation: A Special Wish Foundation is a non-profit, charitable organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children under the age of 21 who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening disorder. The Cleveland Chapter proudly serves Cuyahoga, Geauga, Summit and Lake Counties.