The St. Louis Blues will have a very special guest tagging along with them during a road trip next month, and star forward Vladimir Tarasenko is a big reason why.
Last week, the team held a live auction during a function and the most coveted prize was a trip for two to watch the Blues play in Phoenix and Denver in late March. As part of the package, the winner would get to travel on the team charter and stay in the same hotel as the players.
The winning bid on that prize came from an unlikely source: Tarasenko.
Why would a Blues player pay a significant amount of money to win a trip to watch his own team play on a road trip? Well, it turns out the 25-year-old winger wanted to gift it to a special friend.
Arianna Dougan is a young Blues fan who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma — a rare form of childhood cancer — when she was just three years old. The cancer has come back several times since then and Dougan is currently undergoing treatment to beat it once again. Thankfully, she’s close to doing just that.
On Monday, Arianna celebrated her 11th birthday. For the occasion, she was invited to the Blues locker room, where Tarasenko greeted her with a special surprise — an envelope containing the invitation for her and her mom to join the team on their road trip. The team also presented Arianna with a customized jersey and sang happy birthday to her.
She happily accepted the invitation with a big smile on her face and hugged Tarasenko in a heartwarming moment.
Arianna’s friendship with the Blues player began a few years ago during Hockey Fights Cancer Night, during which they were paired together for a pregame ceremony. They got along quite nicely and have remained friendly ever since.
The incredibly thoughtful gesture by Tarasenko has to be one of the best stories to come out of the NHL this entire season. It’s always amazing to see a player use their platform to do something special for someone who deserves it, especially when it’s a young child who has been dealt a tough hand. Good on Tarasenko.