02/25/2013 12:05 PM
By Cassie Burgess
Every so often we are lucky enough to experience something special. On Thursday, Feb. 21 that moment came for nine-year-old Connor Ford, a young boy with Treacher Collins Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy. He was fortunate enough to sit and watch the Binghamton Senators’ team practice and spend time with one of his favorite players, Hugh Jessiman. It was a joy to see Connor and his family have the entire Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena to themselves and to watch Connor enjoy one of his favorite passions: hockey.
Connor Ford watches the B-Sens practice
“My husband and I were always huge sport fans, but honestly we were never really hockey fans, not for any particular reason,” Connor’s mother Kelly Ford admitted. “We took him last year to the Hockey for Hope charity game and ever since then, he fell in love with hockey.”
The fourth grader isn’t just a fan of hockey though. Kelly also expressed that he has an enthusiasm for all types of sports, including baseball, specifically the Boston Red Sox, a team he and his dad both enjoy together. He also spends time horseback riding, swimming every week at the Court Jester Athletic Club and has a love for music and dance.
“Cognitively there is nothing wrong, he just has limitations physically,” Kelly claimed.
While visiting the B-Sens at practice, Connor received several hellos, including one from B-Sens equipment manager Tom Severance who surprised him with a Robin Lehner goalie stick.
Tom "Sevy" Severance presents Connor with a game-used Robin Lehner stick
Jack Downing, who was not practicing that day, also stopped to say hello to Connor
Once all the players had vacated the rink at the conclusion of practice, Connor and his family carefully took to the ice, getting a first-hand view of what it’s really like to skate on the ice for the B-Sens. Shortly after, Connor was greeted by the guy he had been anxiously waiting to meet, Hugh Jessiman.
Jessiman complimented Connor on his B-Sens jersey, consequently making him smile. With Connor’s family standing by, the two posed for a few pictures before Jessiman would push Connor around on the ice in his wheelchair and thank him for coming out to watch practice.
Hugh Jessiman shows Connor how to shoot pucks
“It was nice to meet Connor. You could tell he was excited,” Jessiman remarked. “He doesn’t get a lot of chances to come to the rink, so for him to come and watch the end of practice and interact with us... it’s a pleasure for both sides.”
Although Jessiman is known for his toughness on the ice as he currently leads the B-Sens this season in penalty minutes with 132, his time spent with Connor was nothing but full of compassion and kindness.
Finally, Jessiman signed a B-Sens pennant with a personal message for Connor to take home and put in his bedroom, concluding a day that surely won’t be forgotten by Connor and his family any time soon.
“It’s pretty special to chat with him, hang out and give him Robin Lehner’s stick, which was a pretty cool and special moment,” Jessiman confessed. “It’s always great to meet the fans, but this was a special one.”