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Dougie Hamilton's special bond

Published December 23, 2019 at 6:15 PM
BY COLTON PANKIW
Making his return to Calgary recently, some noticed Hurricanes defenceman Dougie Hamilton flip a puck over the glass to a family seated just behind the glass. A nice gesture, many would’ve thought. However, what they wouldn’t have realized is that this wasn’t just any random family that Dougie gave a puck to.Thea Roelofsen was a huge Calgary Flames fan. While she was sick and staying at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, she met some members of the Flames, including Hamilton.

"I remember seeing her and she was just so infectious and so smart and smiley and so intelligent for her age. She came to the game and went on the ice and I saw her and remembered her and she remembered me, and it built from there."

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At the time, Thea was fighting for her life. She had recently been diagnosed with a bone cancer called Ewing sarcoma. What was first thought to be just growing pains for Thea turned out to be much, much worse. Thankfully, Hamilton was always around to keep her spirits up.

"Him and (Hamilton’s brother) Freddie would come over and play board games with Thea. As human beings they went so far above and beyond for Thea when she was sick. There’s a side of those guys you would never see."

There were times while Thea was going through her chemotherapy treatments that Hamilton was unable to see her, due to his hockey schedule. That didn’t stop them from communicating, however. The two exchanged several Snapchats daily.

"Eight years old was young for a phone but she took pictures and she and Dougie would Snapchat what they were having for lunch. Even Dougie would say, ‘She was like my best friend.’ It was so special for her.”

Hamilton was certainly special to Thea. What Thea may not have realized, was just how much she meant to the former Flames star defenceman, himself. Hamilton recalled the past times him and Thea spent together, all the games, the smiles and laughter.

Unfortunately, Thea lost her battle with this terrible disease in November 2017. Hamilton was extremely grateful that he was able to be there with her right until the end.

"I was with her when she was pretty much on her deathbed and that was maybe one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through in my life. It hit me hard for a while. I think for me going through that and being friends with her was a big learning experience for me and kind of helped me with perspective in life. Just trying to be a good person and realizing how good everything is in our lives.”

Hamilton continues to keep in touch with the Roelofsens to this day. Although he says it is a little different now that he is much further away in Raleigh, he still communicates with the family as much as possible.

"I talk to them a lot on text and stuff. It’s cool to be able to keep in contract with them. Whenever I can Snapchat Brynn it puts a smile on my face.”

In awe of how much support they received from Hamilton, Thea’s family decided to pay his kindness forward. They built a park at their children’s school, Eugene Coste this summer in honour of Thea. They were able to fundraise for it and also won the Hitmen community grant of $50,000.

The Roelofsens will forever be thankful and supportive for Dougie Hamilton and the impact he had on Thea. They are not alone in the support.

“We’re fans. He created fans of people who knew Thea but didn’t like hockey, but now they like hockey and watch hockey and love Dougie. It’s that human element that we don’t always see… and we still see it now."

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Although Thea is no longer with us, her legacy will continue to live on for years and years to come.

Source: Eric Francis
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