When Barry Hicks and his son Wyatt left their home in Langley to take in an Abbotsford Heat game on Feb. 17, they had no idea that it would be a life-altering trip.
Just 30 seconds after the opening faceoff between the Heat and the Houston Aeros, the elder Hicks received a phone call from his wife Sharon. Wyatt, 14, had been experiencing an intense, continuing thirst earlier in the day, and he’d gone for a blood test. The results were in, and his blood sugar level was through the roof. He needed to get to the emergency room at Abbotsford Regional Hospital immediately.
Hicks was stunned. Wyatt, a hockey player, was a healthy kid as far as he could tell.
But when they got to the hospital, it was confirmed that Wyatt had Type 1 diabetes, and would be insulin dependent.
While at the hospital, Hicks emailed Heat team president Ryan Walter, explaining the circumstances of their departure from the game and asking whether the hockey club might be willing to give them replacement tickets for a future game.
He received a prompt phone call from O.J. Pries, account manager for ticket sales with the Heat, confirming they would make arrangements to have Wyatt attend another game when he was feeling up to it.
Later in the day, Walter emailed Hicks to check up on Wyatt, and to express a desire to meet him at a future game.
As Hicks was responding to Walter’s email, Pries walked into the hospital room with a bag of Heat memorabilia for Wyatt, including a motivational book authored by Walter and autographed with a personal message for Wyatt inside.
“I’m so impressed with the quality of an individual who extends himself for the community like that,” Hicks said. “It’s one thing to say we’ll flip you a couple of tickets, but it’s another thing to get personally involved and want to meet with the kid.
“The first couple times I told this story, I got quite emotional. He (Walter) is a real caring soul, and I think these types of stories need to be highlighted in our community.”
Hicks also lauded the care Wyatt received at ARH.
“The staff was amazing – the time they took, the compassion they demonstrated,” he said. “It was to the point where last night, we were talking, ‘Maybe we should live in Abbotsford.'”
Hicks said his son is handling his diabetes diagnosis with a great deal of maturity.
“He said to me, ‘Dad, I’m really lucky,'” Hicks related. “I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he said, ‘I could have had cancer. I can deal with this.’ It was nice to hear him becoming an optimist as he’s facing adversity and getting his head around how he’s going to deal with this.”