Tom Wilson came up with the idea for his initiative, called Forty Three’s Friends, last summer, supporting twenty Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic families this season as the children wait for their Wishes.
The 24-year-old winger donates tickets to critically-ill children and their families, meets with them after games, and gives them a tour of the Capitals’ locker room.
“The kids that are here are going through a tough time,” said Wilson. “It goes a long way that they can come, enjoy a night with the Capitals and spend it with us, come and see the locker room and stuff. They’re such great kids, we just try to have fun when they come here.”
Five-year-old Avery Cole, a cancer survivor who recently finished chemotherapy, was in attendance for the Capitals’ win over the Hurricanes on Tuesday night and was eager to meet Wilson after.
FORTY THREE'S FRIENDS: All season long @tom_wilso has been helping put smiles on kid's faces, partnering with @WishMidAtlantic to provide memorable nights at @Capitals games. @SherreeBurruss has the story @nbcwashington #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/J2t58Rwv4w
— NBC4 Sports (@NBC4Sports) March 26, 2019
“Events like this, well it makes them feel normal,” said Avery’s mother Kimberly in an interview with NBC4 Sports’ anchor Sherree Burruss. “It’s been really hard for [my son Avery], because he does feel that he’s different, and this just gives him something that gives him a lot of joy.”
A funny highlight from the visit came when John Carlson asked Avery who his favorite player was. Despite Wilson’s excellent hosting, Avery picked the Capitals’ other top line winger, Alex Ovechkin. Kids. Gotta love their honesty.
Avery walked away from the night with some good memories and a Tom Wilson stick that is perhaps slightly too big.
At one point on the tour Avery asked Tom Wilson what it felt like to win the Stanley Cup.
“Oh, it was really cool, buddy,” Wilson replied. “It was like the coolest thing ever.”
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