“My favourite thing to watch is Sports Centre,” says wish child Michael,” seeing Jay (Onrait) and Dan (O’Toole) there normally goofing off, is pretty funny and normally makes me smile, even when I’m at my worst.”
In the winter of 2011, Michael, now 15 years old, had gone from being a young vibrant boy with dreams of playing rep hockey to being in-and-out of the hospital with brain cancer. After initial treatment, his life appeared to have returned to normal, he even started to play summer hockey and visited family in Ontario. But then within a couple months, the cancer returned and he was back receiving treatment.
Not being able to play hockey has been tough on Michael, in fact he found it harder to deal with the fact that he could not play hockey than to learn that he had cancer.
Michael’s preferred escape to deal with treatments and hospital visits is to watch TSN’s sports highlight show Sports Centre, to catch up on what’s going on in the world of sports, especially hockey. He often laughs to sportscasters Jay Onrait or Dan O’Toole off-the-cuff comments.
“My wish was to go to TSN and make a story about my team so I can include them, and get to go to the Sports Centre Desk and get to meet Jay and Dan,” an excited Michael explains.
With this in mind Children’s Wish reached out to TSN to hatch a plan.
TSN surprised the inspiring sportscaster by first creating a specialized “Michael Rumsby” edition of the Sports Centre and then having Onrait and O’Toole surprise Michael by walking into his home just as the episode ended.
Once the initial introductions were over the new found friends all jump in a limousine and heading to the local hockey rink where additional friends and family were waiting to welcome Michael onto the ice for the first time in eight months.
Onrait and O’Toole then brought Michael onto the set of Sports Centre giving him the opportunity to live out his heartfelt wish to be a sportscaster for the day.
Michael who has spent much of the last year enduring treatments, wanted to thank his teammates and coaches for everything they have done for him in the past year. A year that saw Michael and his hockey team become a true extended family.
A couple weeks after he was diagnosed the coach of the Cole Harbour Bantam AA Team, Paul Mason called Michael’s mother Michelle and asked if Michael wanted to be part of the team. He got the news while being in the hospital.
“I was so excited that I couldn’t stop laughing and jumping around,” recalls Michael.
Michael didn’t play a single game during the 2010/2011 season because of his illness, yet his team elected him their team captain for showing true leadership and the fighting spirit. Living up to these words, Michael dressed in his hockey gear and sat on the bench along with his teammates for every game he attended.
During a tournament Coach Mason asked all the other team’s coaches if they would be willing to have no contact for one shift in each game so Michael could play. They agreed.
In homage to his teammates and coaches he ended his inaugural on-air experience by letting them know how important they were to him.
“Last year meant so much to me. I just wanted to thank the team and the coaches for not making me feel like any less part of the team.”