Kyle from East Northport has always been passionate about hockey. He's a faithful fan of the New York Islanders, collecting the team’s jerseys, hockey sticks, and photos.
Kyle is also battling end stage renal disease, which results in loss of normal kidney function. Like any teenager following a favorite sports team, Kyle stays strong and positive in his attitude towards his medical condition. When Make-A-Wish® Suffolk County was contacted to grant Kyle a wish, there was no question that he wanted to meet his idols face to face.
One of Kyle’s wish granters, Dave Gussaroff, was given the chance to experience the wish with Kyle – a special opportunity that occurs during most local celebrity wishes. On December 12th, 2009, Kyle, his mom, his mom’s fiancé, his sister, and Dave were all whisked away by limousine to Nassau Coliseum, home of the Islanders. When they arrived, the excited group was welcomed at the entrance by an Islanders’ PR representative and taken to a greeting area at ice-level, where Kyle was able to watch the players stretch and warm up before the game. He was then given an authentic Islanders jersey with his name printed across the back, a gift that would come in handy later on!
When Dave and Kyle’s family were brought to their seats for the game, Kyle was invited to step out onto the ice to drop the first puck! A carpet was rolled out over the ice as Kyle walked to the center of the rink and an announcer relayed Kyle’s story to the spectators. Not only was Dave extremely impressed by all the fanfare Kyle received, but also the way Kyle handled the crowd.
"He was so calm and collected out there. And he was waving like a pro!" said volunteer wish granter Dave. The crowd responded with a standing ovation. What Kyle didn’t know was that his favorite player of all time, Trent Hunter, was waiting in the wings to face off with the opponent. Hunter skated out to greet an astonished Kyle while a player from the opposing team, the Boston Bruins, went to meet Trent at center ice. Kyle was also pleased to see that the Bruins sent out Zdeno Chara. At 6’ 9”, Chara is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL. The game itself was fun and thrilling for everyone – the Isles won 2-1 in overtime!
After the game, Kyle and his family were escorted back to the greeting area, where many of the Islanders stayed to sign autographs and to chat. Each one of them signed Kyle’s new personalized jersey, along with other Islander paraphernalia that Kyle had brought with him, plus spending extra time talking with him. Even the head coach, Scott Gordon, made it a point to speak with the VIP. After chatting for a while, Trent Hunter made Kyle’s day complete by signing a top-of-the-line hockey stick and giving it to him as a special keepsake!
Kyle was then given a tour of the locker room, the dressing room with all the equipment and the gym where the team works out.
The group was all smiles as they headed back home in the limo, reflecting on all the incredible highlights of the day. Just as the Islanders will always have a fan in Kyle, there is no doubt that Kyle will always have a fan in the Islanders!