Ben Stelter, the six-year-old Edmonton Oilers fan who captured the hearts of not just the team but all Edmontonians, has died.
“The world lost the most extraordinary boy and an absolute hero last night,” his father Mike Stelter said in a statement posted to Twitter on Tuesday.
“Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best friend ever.
“Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and overcame so much adversity.”
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When he was four years old, Ben was diagnosed with glioblastoma – an aggressive form of brain cancer. He underwent surgery to remove the tumor, as well as multiple rounds of chemotherapy and dozens of radiation sessions.
Last December the tumor returned and Ben began further rounds of radiation over the winter.
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A huge Oilers fan, Ben dreamed of meeting Connor McDavid. That dream, clad in an Oilers jersey and McDavid socks, came true in March when Ben took his hero to the center ice for the anthems.
Ben turned six last May while the Oilers were stuck in the Stanley Cup playoff season.
The Oilers made a commitment before the start of the 2021-22 season that they will play La Bamba after each win at Rogers Place in honor of longtime locker room assistant Joey Moss.
Ben became known for telling the team to “play La Bamba‘Baby!’ and became a household name in Edmonton and beyond.
Earlier this year, Stelter recorded a video ahead of a Battle of Alberta regular season game saying, “I hope you guys win the game. Let’s get Tkachuk!”
It caught the eye of former Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk during the playoffs, prompting him to come up with a message of his own in support of the youngster.
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The Oilers also dedicated a 50/50 program in his name, with proceeds supporting the Alberta Cancer Foundation and the Kids with Cancer Society.
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“You really changed the world and did so much good in your short time here. Mom and I are so proud of you,” said Stelter.
“You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met.
“Our hearts have a Ben-sized hole in them and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely devastated.
“We love you, our sweet Benny-Boy.”
Connor McDavid posted a tribute to Ben on his Instagram, saying: “You touched everyone’s hearts and were such an inspiration to us all.
“Happy to be your friend.”
The Edmonton Oilers said the club “mourns the loss of our dear friend, number one fan, good luck charm and inspiration, Ben Stelter.”
“Ben came into all of our lives at a time when we needed some hope and inspiration,” OEG said in a statement.
“Although Ben was short in stature, he made a tremendous impact on our team and community.
“At a time when he was struggling with his illness, he and his family gave their time and friendship to meet Ben and be touched by his charm, courage and infectious giggles. He was such a big part of what made last season so special for all of us and we will forever ‘play La Bamba’ in his memory.”
The team extended their condolences to the Stelter family and thanked them for sharing their son with the team and with Edmonton.
“You will forever be a part of the Oilers family. Rest in peace Ben.”
The Oilers posted about Ben’s death on Twitter, which received condolences from several other NHL teams.
“Our deepest condolences go to Ben’s family and friends. Ben was an incredible source of inspiration to all who knew him and his story, and embodied courage, kindness and bravery,” said the Calgary Flames.
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https://globalnews.ca/news/9051336/edmonton-oilers-ben-stelter-brain-cancer-dies/ Beloved Oilers fan Ben Stelter dies after battling cancer: ‘The world has lost the special boy’