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Experience ‘absolutely amazing’

Langley's Nevan Coburn got the thrill of a lifetime at the NHL All-Star game in Nashville
It was the thrill of a lifetime for Langley’s Nevan Coburn. The six-year-old attended the 2016 NHL All-Star game in Nashville, where he got the chance to meet players such as former Vancouver Canuck Roberto Luongo and current Canuck Daniel Sedin (below). Coburn was at the game as part of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Coburn was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 2011 but is now cancer-free. He attended the game with his parents and little brother.

Nevan Coburn walked into the dressing room and was speechless.

As an aspiring hockey player, the six-year-old is sure to see his fair share of dressing rooms in the years to come.

But this was something different and the usually talkative boy didn’t have much to say right away.

“When we got into the dressing room and looked around, Nevan just kind of froze,” said his dad Derek Coburn. “Usually, he has something to say about everything.

“He just went ‘wow, look dad.’”

Coburn directed his awestruck son to the corner of the room, where former Vancouver Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider stood.

“Schneids,” Nevan said as his face broke into an ear-to-ear grin.

That seemed to break the ice for the Langley boy, as he walked over and began chatting up the New Jersey Devils all-star goaltender.

Nevan was in Nashville with his family over the weekend for the 2016 National Hockey League All-Star Game.

He was there as a guest of The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.

According to the foundation’s website, 23,000 wishes have been granted since 1984.

Children under the age of 18, who face or have overcome life-threatening illness, are nominated to have a wish granted.

In 2011, at 20-months-old, Nevan was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, germ cell teratoma.

The young Langley boy underwent four rounds of chemotherapy sessions in a six-month span. That was followed by a surgery and then one more round of chemotherapy. Next came two months of intense follow-up appointments.

The appointments used to be every month, and then every six months. Now he goes for his check-ups once a year and is cancer-free.

Each wish must be used before the nominee turns 18 and the Coburns felt the time was right to cash it in.

Back in September Nevan’s parents asked him what he wanted to do for his special wish, and not surprisingly, his answer was hockey-related.

“We wanted Nevan to have a fantastic experience and we asked him a few times what he wanted and he said ‘hockey, hockey, hockey,” his dad said.

Nevan said he wanted to learn about the sport by meeting the world’s best hockey players.

In September, the family wrote a letter to the NHL and by November, the plan was in place.

Nevan — who plays left wing and centre with the Langley Minor Hockey Association  as well as soccer with the Langley United Soccer Club — prepared for the big weekend by ordering some hockey cards of himself, which he autographed and handed out to the players.

Among his favourite memories are meeting the Canucks’ Daniel Sedin, former Canuck Roberto Luongo, and helping Edmonton Oilers star Taylor Hall tape his hockey stick. 

“It was all lots of fun,” Nevan said by phone from the family’s hotel room in Nashville.

Nevan’s 18-month-old brother, and his parents, Derek and Debbie, joined him on the trip.

The parents raved about the whole experience.

“It was all absolutely amazing,” Derek said. “The Children’s Wish (Foundation), the way they put it together with the NHL, they are phenomenal.

“Everyone went over the top to make it a fantastic experience.”

The NHL players were also great with all the kids, asking questions of the children, posing for pictures and signing autographs.

“For them to take the time to bond with them, to answer questions and just chat with them, they were all absolutely amazing,” Derek said.

“Everyone was just so nice.”

The family even got a chance to meet the all-star game’s referees. This happened after they bumped into one of the officials, Vaughan Rody, while boarding the plane to Nashville in Seattle.

The referee noticed Nevan’s shirt and the families began chatting about what they were doing. The official kept in touch and introduced Nevan to the other NHL officials selected to work the game.

The family returned to Langley on Feb. 4 and the next morning, he took his autographed NHL All-Star jersey to his Grade 1 class at Lynn Fripps Elementary to proudly show his classmates.

Nevan’s focus is now back to playing hockey.

And with LMHA’s 16th annual Jordan Owens Memorial Hockey Tournament just over a month away, Nevan is asking people to donate money to the tournament.

The tournament raises money in support of various charities — including B.C. Children’s Hospital —  in memory of Jordan Owens, a hockey-loving Langley boy who passed away from cancer in 1999 at the age of eight.

Since it began in 2000, more than $150,000 has been raised.

This year’s tournament runs March 18-22.


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