Cleveland Monsters and Columbus Blue Jackets Make Local 12-Year-Old Boy's Wish Come True
CLEVELAND - The AHL's Cleveland Monsters will have a new addition on their roster for the team's home game on Thursday vs. the Charlotte Checkers as the Monsters, in conjunction with Cleveland's NHL affiliate, the Columbus Blue Jackets, will sign 12-year-old Northeast Ohio resident Ryan Kutchta to a one-day NHL/AHL contract, fulfilling Kutchta's wish through the A Special Wish Foundation.
Ryan is an energetic young boy who loves hockey and has played the sport his entire life, most recetly as a goaltender for the Strongsville Mustangs Pee-Wee team. In November 2018, Ryan noticed a swollen lymph node on his neck that was growing quickly. After several trips to the pediatrician ruled out strep throat and mononucleosis, he was sent to the emergency room for additional testing that eventually revealed that Ryan indeed showed signs of cancer. After being transported to the Cleveland Clinic on November 14, 2018, Ryan was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins T cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. Because of the aggressive nature of Ryan's cancer, treatment also needed to be aggressive and to be implemented immediately. Over the past several months, Ryan has spent more time in the hospital than he has at home.
The entire Cleveland hockey community has rallied around Ryan to support him during his fight. His Pee-Wee team changed their name to "Team Ryan" and wore special helmet stickers during games and Monsters players Brad Thiessen, Tommy Cross and Nathan Gerbe also visited Ryan in the hospital to show their support during Ryan's many rounds of treatment.
Considering the fact that hockey is a major part of Ryan's life, the Monsters thought the best way to honor him was to offer him a very special opportunity to join the team. The Monsters and Blue Jackets, in partnership with the A Special Wish Foundation, have committed to make Ryan's wish come true and will sign Ryan to a pro contact for a day.
"Ryan loves Monsters hockey so much, so for the Monsters to make this young man's dream to join the team come true is amazing beyond words," said Eileen Lane, Executive Director of A Special Wish Foundation's Cleveland chapter. "We are grateful to the entire organization for making this happen."
Ryan's exciting day will begin Wednesday morning when Ryan and his family head to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse at 10:00 am for practice as the Monsters prepare for the team's upcoming home games vs. Charlotte on Thursday and Friday. Ryan will have a chance to suit up and skate with the players after practice concludes.
"Ryan is as brave a kid as there is and the determination and heart he's shown to battle through the obstacles he's faced is inspiring to me and to our team," said Monsters Head Coach John Madden. "We are extremely excited to welcome Ryan to the Monsters on Wednesday."
After practice, Kutchta's signing will be formally announced to local media during his 11:45 am press conference with Monsters and Blue Jackets representatives, at which point Ryan will sign his one-day NHL/AHL contract. This exciting moment will be streamed live on the Monsters' Facebook page and there will be full media availability following Kutchta's signing.
When Kutchta returns to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse for Thursday's game, he will enter the Monsters dressing room as an official player. He will assist in reading the team's starting lineup and will prepare for the game alongside his newfound teammates before taking the ice with the Monsters for player introductions and the in-arena announcement of the team's starters. Kutchta will then have the opportunity to watch the game with his family and hopefully celebrate a Monsters win with the team at the end of the night.
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