When Edmonton General residents Tim Bearhead and James Stubbs are presented with free tickets through the Covenant Foundation to Wednesday’s Oilers game against the Anaheim Ducks, Game 4 in the best-of-seven series, their faces illuminate with joy. While both James and Tim are dedicated Oilers fans, the tickets are a priceless gift—neither man expected to ever attend another Oilers game.
“Neither of them have been to a playoff game before—this means the world to them and we’re so excited for them,” says Brenda Neuman, Recreational Therapist.
Tim lives with a brain injury and has called the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre (EGCCC) home for five years. He comes from a large family and has been an unwavering Oilers fan his whole life. His excitement for the game is palpable as he clutches his ticket.
“I’m really excited to see them play,” Tim says, holding his tickets proudly. “And if they win the Cup, I’ll be at about a 20 on a scale of one to 10.” His passion for the Oilers is reflected in his room, which is decorated from top to bottom in Oilers swag. From a framed photo of Wayne Gretzky to assorted caps and jerseys, he’s got it all.
James, a former oilpatch salesman living with Huntington disease, is equally devoted to supporting the Oilers and is excited to see his favourite player, Connor McDavid, in action.
“They’re the best team in the league,” says James.
Just as they predicted, the game was an unforgettable experience.
“Just being there among the cheers was incredible,” says James the next day, proudly wearing an Oilers shirt. “We had a great view and I was cheering at the top of my lungs.” For James, the game brings back memories of when he got to see Gretzky play years ago.
“I’m so glad I had a chance to go,” says Tim, still basking in the glow of the game. “I’ll always be an Oilers fan, whether they win or not.”
James’ and Tim’s passion for the Oilers has been contagious on Unit 4Y, a specialized care unit at EGCCC, since the start of the season. They never miss watching a game on TV and often watch reruns.
“They’ve got staff wearing jerseys and getting excited about every game,” says Diana Grabusic, Occupational Therapist. “They’ve made us better fans.”
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