Air Canada invites 13-year-old St. Marys resident and his family to Leafs’ game last month
By Pat Payton
Thanks to Air Canada and the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was a day Brock Chessell and his family will never forget!
Air Canada is recognizing youth making a difference in their communities across Canada with a season-long promotion called, Air Canada Fan Flight. Fan Flight rewards deserving young sports fans, nominated by the Air Canada Foundation, who are making their mark in their communities, giving such Mark Makers the unforgettable experience of watching their favourite NHL team play at home and away games.
On Oct. 29, the airline celebrated the 13-year-old St. Marys resident at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Fan Flight program rewarded Brock with a VIP game experience at a Maple Leafs’ home game against Washington Capitals, giving him and family members great seats to catch all the action as well as a ‘meet and greet’ with Leafs’ star forward Mitch Marner and coach Mike Babcock.
At the age of 11, Brock was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer (hepatoblastoma) in April of 2017, enduring 16 rounds of chemotherapy and a 13-hour liver transplant. He was discharged from Sick Kids Hospital nine days after his transplant, and 10 weeks later he returned to his favourite sport and was back on the ice with his hockey team.
The Air Canada Fan Flight program describes Brock as “truly inspirational.” The Grade 8 Holy Name of Mary student now speaks at events to raise money for children’s hospitals or at conferences with top doctors to share his story and help make a mark on future research.
Brock’s parents Chris and Julie, and brothers Carter, 15, and Rhett, 11, also made the trip to Scotiabank Arena last month. “It was a crazy day,” Brock told the Independent. “Air Canada set up the day, and I got to meet Mitch Marner and coach Babcock and watch the game. It was just an awesome day.”
Dad Chris said Air Canada and the Maple Leafs’ organization gave the Chessell family a “first-class” experience.
“It was a big surprise for the family,” he noted. “We knew going in that the day was going to be spent with the Leafs. Air Canada and the Leafs really brought it. We got a tour from the top to the bottom of the building.
“We spent about 15-20 minutes with the organ guy, and we spent about 10 minutes with Mike Ross, the Leafs’ announcer. Before the game, he also announced Brock’s first NHL goal over the PA system. It was pretty cool. Brock got to play the organ for a few seconds, and we also talked to (Leafs’ TV broadcaster) Joe Bowen for about 15 minutes and he talked about his son having leukemia.”
The Chessell family met former Leafs’ captain Wendell Clark as well. “The Leafs are a top-notch organization; they treated us first class from 10 o’clock in the morning until we went home at 10 o’clock that night,” Chris added.
Flying to Florida for another Leafs game
Brock Chessell will be joining other Air Canada Fan Flight lucky winners at an away game Jan. 12 in Florida, where they will watch the Leafs take on the Panthers. He and the entire family will spend two nights in Florida as part of the promotion.
“That is so amazing, and I’m so thankful to Air Canada for doing that for me,” Brock said.
–Last month’s NHL game at Scotiabank Arena wasn’t the first time Brock Chessell got to watch his beloved Leafs live. Last season, he received a hockey stick from Marner before a home game, which was well publicized by Toronto and local media.
“It was awesome to meet him this time, and I thanked him for his stick,” Brock noted.
–Brock also attended a Las Vegas Golden Knights’ home game last month where he was honoured by the Simon Keith Foundation for his work in advocacy for organ donation. He also got to crank the Knights’ siren prior to the start of the third period.
–This season, Brock Chessell is a forward with the ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams.