Battle Off the Ice: A Wish from ALS Survivor Tom Higgins

Throughout all the hoopla of the Stanley Cup Finals – the emotions, the anticipation, the nerves and the stress – a man by the name of Tom Higgins was dealing with a struggle far beyond the battle on ice – it was the battle for his life.

Tom was recently given a grim prognosis. He was diagnosed with a fatal disease, ALS, (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease) which kills most patients within 3 – 5 years.

Don Cherry

Despite being diagnosed with a rapidly progressive form of ALS, Higgins is not giving up on life.

There was a moment when the likelihood of his impending death overwhelmed Tom Higgins, but almost entirely ever since he has just continued smiling.

His daughter Sonya recently told us and the media that his dream was to watch the Boston Bruins play in a live game, but with the high demand for Finals tickets he would have to wait until next season. After Game 5 of the Finals, a relative with connections read the article and managed to secure tickets for her Dad if there was a Game 7 in Vancouver.

The whole family was on eggshells for a few days, waiting to see if Boston would win Game 6 on Monday night, so there would be a Game 7 for Dad to go see. Thank goodness they came through. At 6:30am Newfoundland time on Tuesday morning, my father began his long journey to Vancouver for the first time in his life and arrived in his hotel room.

Upon arrival to the city, the Pan Pacific Vancouver was honored to host Tom for 4 nights at the Hotel. On game night, the disease again was taking its toll on Tom; but after relaxing a few hours before the game he was ready for one of the highlights of his life – a chance to see his beloved Bruins play for the Cup.

In the end, he was one of the lucky Boston fans to witness his team hoist the Stanley Cup in front of his eyes. To sweeten the deal, he was also introduced to his favorite hockey personality – Don Cherryof CBC Hockey Night in Canada.

After the game he told reporters:

I am very emotional right now. It was something I hoped for for a long time. It was just amazing. A dream come true.

Tom Higgins and General Manager, Tim Tindle

Everyone at the Pan Pacific Vancouver wishes Tom Higgins all the love and support in his battle against ALS.