In an unfortunate turn of events, a 6-year-old boy lost his cancer battle, leaving his family in tears. The boy was a ray of sunshine for his family, friends, and many strangers. At a young age, Ben had become a local star.
The most frightening “C” word, cancer, has affected many families by taking away their loved ones. People’s hearts skip a beat when they hear their doctor say this word. It sends a shiver down their spine, thinking about the effects of this disease.
Fortunately, some people recover from cancer and live without needing to undergo painful medical procedures. On the contrary, others aren’t as lucky and have to say their final goodbyes like the little boy in today’s story.
2016 was a joy-filled year for the Stelters because of the newest addition to their family, their son, Ben Stelter. His parents thought they would watch him grow and cheer for him on every milestone he achieved, not knowing their dreams would soon be shattered.
Everything went well until the then four-year-old Ben fell sick in 2021. Worried for him, his parents took him to the hospital, where the doctors ran multiple tests. Nothing seemed unusual to the doctors until they saw the MRI reports.
That day, Mike Stelter and his wife discovered something they never wanted to know. The news about their son, who was a source of joy, shocked them to the core. The doctors said they had found a tumor in Ben’s brain.
Mike and his wife felt broken, but the doctors didn’t let them lose hope. They told them they could remove the tumor through brain surgery followed by radiation therapy, and Ben wouldn’t need any other medical procedures if his cancer didn’t return.
The doctors had decided to stop chemotherapy and said the hospital didn’t have any more treatment options for Ben.
Feeling hopeful, Ben’s parents allowed him to undergo brain surgery. Seeing their 4-year-old go under the knife was tough, but they had no other option. After the medical procedure, Mike and his wife brought their son home so he could recover quickly.
One thing little Ben loved was playing hockey. He was a die-hard fan of the Edmonton Oilers and even had a mini version of the team’s jersey that he loved to wear. After his surgery, Mike wrote a Twitter post where he tagged the team’s official handle. He said:
“He had brain surgery and is now recovering at home before he starts radiation. We can’t keep his stick out of his hands, and it’s his dream to meet his hero Connor McDavid.”
In his tweet, Mike had attached a video of Ben playing hockey. He wasn’t sure if the Oilers would respond to it. Soon, Connor McDavid replied. He said, “Nice shot Ben! I’m rooting for you, buddy. Stay strong.”
After his surgery, Ben underwent multiple radiation therapies to get rid of the tumor. Mike kept updating people about his progress and was optimistic that his son would beat cancer. Little did he know that fate had other plans.
Meanwhile, Ben had started to gain popularity. He was on the local news channels because of a special birthday parade where over a hundred cars, including 30 Corvettes, drove by his house. Mike thanked everyone for contributing to the parade and making his son smile.
On December 3, 2021, Mike posted an update about Ben on his Instagram profile. He revealed the results of Ben’s second follow-up MRI since his surgery and requested people to pray for him. Mike said:
“We were crushed to find out that Ben’s tumor had returned.”
Despite feeling heartbroken, Mike and his wife didn’t give up. They felt Ben was a warrior and would defeat cancer. However, things took a different turn when the doctors said Ben’s tumor had stopped responding to chemotherapy.
The doctors had decided to stop chemotherapy and said the hospital didn’t have any more treatment options for Ben. Mike and his wife were still praying for a miracle, hoping their son would somehow recover.
In March 2022, little Ben got a chance to live his dream. He got invited to skate with Edmonton Oilers and stand next to his hero, Connor McDavid. Ben wore his personalized orange and blue jersey and skated with his favorite team. Mike said:
“Ben is on cloud nine and will never forget this night!”
That night marked the beginning of Ben’s journey to fame. Soon, he joined Edmonton Oilers in multiple matches and caught the attention of their fans and the media. People were obsessed with the team’s youngest fan.
Ben visited several states despite his poor health to see his favorite team play. He would cheer for them, fistbump with his favorite players, and wish them good luck. The Edmonton Oilers never hesitated to interact with their little fan.
The Oilers’ opponent, Calgary Flames, also loved little Ben despite knowing they weren’t his favorite team. They said they were cheering for him and wished him the best. Matthew Tkachuk sent good wishes for Ben through the team’s Twitter account. He said:
“He’s a true warrior, so we’re following him every step when he’s at the games and everything like that. We’re definitely cheering him on and hoping for the best for him.”
For Ben’s sixth birthday in May 2022, Edmonton Oilers tweeted something that made his day. Leon Draisaitl recorded a birthday video for Ben after fulfilling his wish to see the Oilers win against the Calgary Flames. Draisaitl said:
“Hi buddy, it’s Leon here, one of your good friends. Happy Birthday Ben. We love you. I know you are cheering for us. [We’re] excited to see you in Round 3.”
Meanwhile, the Flames also expressed their love for little Ben, despite knowing he was cheering for their opponent team. They sent him a bouquet of candies with a personalized handwritten note.
On August 11, 2022, Mike shared a heartbreaking update with the world. With a heavy heart, he informed Ben’s fans about his demise. Mike lost his “best son” and felt his life would never be the same again. He said:
“You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here. Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met.”
After learning about their “number one” fan’s death, the Edmonton Oilers issued a press release. They said, “Ben came into all of our lives at a time when we needed some hope and inspiration.”
Ben had inspired the entire hockey community in his country. Many hockey clubs sympathized with his parents through their tweets. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers retweeted some of Ben’s previous interactions with them as a tribute.