Ben Stelter, the six-year-old who captured hearts of Edmonton Oilers players and fans alike last season, has passed away.
“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night,” Mike Stelter, Ben’s dad, wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds.”
Ben battled glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, after being diagnosed when he was four.
He underwent four rounds of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatment sessions to remove it, but the tumour returned before Christmas, prompting Ben to continue his battle with additional rounds of radiation.
Ben was introduced to Oil Country when he won hearts as the Scotiabank Skater in advance of Edmonton’s 5-2 win against the San Jose Sharks on March 25.
The Oilers won 10 straight games with him in attendance.
Ben was also presented with his own hockey card featuring him and Connor McDavid, as well as a larger replica signed by the Oilers, last week. His official trading card became available in an e-Pack for a limited time, with proceeds going to the Kids With Cancer Society.
“I had the opportunity to meet Ben earlier this year and just fell in love with him right away,” McDavid said in late March. “He lights up every room he’s in.”
The Calgary Flames put the Battle of Alberta aside to wish Ben well during their second-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in May, and he received a standing ovation at Rogers Place before Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against the Colorado Avalanche in June.
“You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here,” Mike Stelter wrote. “Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met. Our hearts are left with a Ben sized hole in them and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely crushed.