Wednesday May 4, 2011 — Ryan Rogers
The Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion made one of Denise Cheung’s dreams come true by sending her and community support worker Melanie Ratard from the Still Creek Education Centre to a Vancouver Canucks’ game live at Rogers Arena in downtown Vancouver.
Melanie says Denise’s enthusiasm for the Canucks made the entire night special.
“Denise lives, eats and breaths Canucks,” says Melanie. From putting Canucks’ themed bandanas on her cats, to putting flags up on her walls, and wearing Canucks’ shirts on game-days, the first thing out of Denise’s mouth in the morning is always how the game went the night before.
Denise was initially hesitant to go to the game.
“People with autism often really like being in their comfort zone, so anything outside the usual routine can be a bit stressful,” says Melanie. “But as the weeks went by she got more and more excited, and by the week of the game we were talking about it a lot.”
The most touching moment for Melanie was a phone message she received from Denise’s sister-in-law the morning of the game.
“She called with just the most lovely thank you message, saying that they’d been wanting to take (Denise) but hadn’t had the means to do it, and I got all choked up, and she was choked up,” says Melanie. “It was just a phone message, but it was really lovely.”
Melanie and Denise made a poster reading “Go Canucks Go,” waved flags and wore face paint at the game. They were among the 18,860 fans at the arena to watch the mid-March regular season game.
Denise got to see her favourite players like Alex Burrows, who had 15 minutes in penalties that game, Mikael Samuelsson, Ryan Kessler, the twin superstars Daniel and Henrik Sedin and goalie Roberto Luongo, who made 26 saves on the night.
The Canucks lost the game 3-1 to the Phoenix Coyotes, with all four goals being scored in the third period.
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