Nobody expected Arianna Dougan to have an 11th birthday. At 3 years old, she was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, but after 8 years of treatment and 4 remissions, she is now close to being cancer free. To celebrate, NHL star Vladimir Tarasenko gave her a birthday present she’ll never forget.
The two quickly became friends during Hockey Fights Cancer Night two years ago, and have an obvious adoration for each other. During a live auction last week, the St. Louis Blues forward made sure he had the winning bid on a trip for two with the organization -- something he really wanted to give to Arianna and her mother.
Now THAT'S friendship. 😊 https://t.co/CAgQBO577D— NHL (@NHL) February 21, 2017
Tarasenko surprised them by bringing them both to the locker room, where Arianna received her very own customized St. Louis Blues jersey. Then she read the card in front of the team before everyone sang “Happy Birthday”:
"You are invited to join Vladimir Tarasenko as his guest to fly with the St. Louis Blues to Arizona and Colorado for a two-game road trip leaving on March 28 and returning on March 31. You and a guest will fly on the team charter plane and stay at the team hotel in Phoenix and Denver."
Arianna’s mom, Lorie Zucker, told Chris Pinkert of the St. Louis Blues,"This stranger to us who has befriended our family and done so much for us, he just has the biggest heart and is the kindest person. It's just amazing. It renews your belief in humanity when you meet someone that is so nice and generous."
Hockey players battle for every inch of ice, and it often results in bruises, cuts, and broken bones. But for a weekend in March, the greatest warrior in the arena will be little Arianna Dougan. Watch the video to see why the team sang “Happy Birthday” for Arianna.