DENVER — UPDATE: Elise wasn't able to make Game 1, but she was inside Ball Arena when the Avs won in the Game 4 overtime thriller. Now, the family is hoping to raise enough money to attend Game 5 and hopefully watch the Avs lift the Stanley Cup. Click here to donate to Elise's GoFundMe.
This Avalanche playoff run has been nothing short of amazing for fans. But a thousand miles away, a 12-year-old fan in Saskatchewan, Canada, may have made one of the biggest impressions.
“Elise was born as a 26 week (premature baby),” Elise’s mom, Christy Simard, said. “She has a developmental delay, she has a seizure disorder, she has a trache because she has paralyzed vocal cords.”
Christy spoke to Denver7’s Jason Gruenauer over Zoom from their home in Saskatchewan, sitting next to Elise in her Avalanche jersey.
“Who’s this boy?” Christy asked Elise, pointing to her jersey. “Alex,” Elise said quietly.
Alex is Avalanche center Alex Newhook. The two met and developed a bond while Newhook was playing in Canada.
“She was smitten right from the get go,” Christy said about Elise’s love for hockey and relationship with her "boy," Newhook.
Elise attended her first Avs game back in April in Edmonton to watch Alex play.
“Alex knew we were coming, and she got to sit and fist bump the players as they came out,” Christy said.
Afterwards, Newhook called Elise his "good luck charm." That eventually snowballed into a GoFundMe with donated tickets that brought Elise to the Avs first round playoff series, where she once again got to meet Newhook in person.
Her mom described how Elise acts and reacts when it comes to hockey games in person.
“She lights up. She turns into a different kid when she steps into those rinks,” she said.
When Colorado made it into the Stanley Cup Final, her mom had no idea if a GoFundMe could work a second time.
“It was within 24 hours that it hit the goal,” Christy said.
Elise will be inside Ball Arena for Game 1.
“I don’t expect any of this,” she said. “I’m a newly single mom in the middle of nowhere on a farm raising my special needs daughter, and this is something I could never give her.”
Christy says her daughter’s journey with her adopted team has brought Elise something she hasn’t had much of in her young life — real joy.
“She doesn’t understand the magnitude of it, but I know this is stuff she will remember for the rest of her life and will be life changing,” Christy said.
A playoff run with a young fan along for the ride — talk about nothing short of amazing.