DAYTON, Ohio – The Stanley Cup. It’s the ultimate prize in hockey. Steeped in both tradition and folklore, it’s the dream of young players everywhere to hoist the 35-pound silver trophy after winning the National Hockey League championship. And it was the dream of 13-year-old Centerville, Ohio native Joe Ross to one day drink from Lord Stanley’s Cup. Now, Joe and his family dream of a much simpler day, a day when he can walk out of the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton and return to a normal life.
On October 23, Ross skated with his Centerville bantam hockey team in a game he will not soon forget. Near the end of the third period, a check from behind left the seventh grader partially paralyzed. He was airlifted from Indiana and admitted to the care of Dr. Laurence Kleiner, who is the medical director of neurosurgery at the Children’s Medical Center of Dayton.
As part of a promotional tour to help raise funds for hurricane victims in the gulf coast, the National Hockey League and the ECHL joined forces to display the Stanley Cup in a number of ECHL arenas this autumn. The Ervin J. Nutter Center, home of the Dayton Bombers, hosted the Cup one week after Ross’s terrible accident. A friend of the Ross family contacted the Bombers about the possibility of bringing the Cup to Joe’s room in the pediatric intensive care unit and a remarkable evening came together on very short notice.