After the Washington Capitals played the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night, Nicklas Backstrom took time to meet with a family who has been through a tragedy. The father, Bryan K., explains.
In late December, tragedy struck my family suddenly, and unexpectedly when my beloved 15-year-old son Jake took his own life. He had been struggling with anxiety and depression for the previous three months since entering high school and we were actively working with doctors, therapists, and the Loudoun County Public School system to try and help him. But sadly, we lost him.
Jake loved playing and watching hockey. On December 7, 2016, Jake and I went to our last hockey game together. The Capitals played the Bruins. Here’s a photo of Jake from the game.
After the Caps took a 3-0 lead that night, they gave up 17 unanswered shots and three unanswered goals to the Bruins. It seemed as if the Caps were destined to lose that game. Instead, Jake’s favorite player, Nicklas Backstrom, scored in overtime.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) December 8, 2016
Since we lost Jake, the outpouring of love and support from our family, friends, and the community has been amazing. One such friend knew of how much Jake loved the Capitals and Backstrom in particular. She contacted her friend at the Caps, and the Caps organization graciously sent my family suite tickets to see the Caps-Red Wings game on February 9. In addition, she and another friend contacted Backstrom and he agreed to meet our family after the game.
This event was bittersweet to say the least. This would have been Jake’s dream event, and the only reason we were there was because he was not. While my wife and I had moments of tears during the game, the meeting with Backstrom could not have been more uplifting! He was so generous with his time, and so engaging with my 13-year-old daughter, and 14- and 13-year-old cousins! My wife and I could not help but smile and enjoy this meeting with Jake’s favorite Caps player. We spoke about the game and joked a bit about his 2 penalties early in the game, and then celebrated the Caps win which ended with Backstrom’s empty netter!
Before we left, we asked Backstrom if he would mind signing a few pucks that we could donate for a silent auction at an upcoming fundraiser. Our family has been supporting the Ryan Bartel Foundation which works with local schools in Loudoun County to help empower students to support each other and reduce teen suicides. Of course, he was more than willing to help, and we know that the autographed pucks will sell quickly in the auction, and the money raised will help many kids in need!
I would like to thank the Washington Capitals and Nick Backstrom for their generosity and kindness to my family during what I can only describe as the most challenging time in our lives. This event and meeting gave us and our family a great night, and an experience we will always remember and cherish. Jake was absolutely there in spirit with us during the game and meeting, and we are so thankful that we have people in our lives who loved Jake and care for us enough to have given us this gift.
This season, I truly hope the Caps can finally win the Stanley Cup. All of the players are class acts and I know Jake will be watching.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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