Just after qualifying for the halfpipe final with the best score in the competition, two-time Olympic gold medalist Shaun White did some TV interviews and was about to meet with another group of reporters when he changed his mind and hurdled the fence to meet two special kids.
Ten-year-old Ben Hughes of St. Louis was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010. He went there with Kaitlyn Lyle, a 19-year-old Alabama undergrad, who four years ago got treatment in a hospital bed at Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital undergoing chemotherapy treatments for osteo sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer.
They were part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation’s party in Sochi. Both of them had dreams of coming to the Winter Games and seeing their hero, Shaun White, who won gold in the halfpipe in Torino and Vancouver.
“I was hospitalized all of February in 2010 and watching Shaun helped me get through that time in my life,” Kaitlyn said, a good hour before White took the slopes. “My goal is to leave here as Mrs. Shaun White. Okay, maybe not. But it would be cool to meet him.”
White didn’t know any of this. But hearing both kids’ stories, a reporter told the U.S. snowboarding press that White might want to consider saying hello to the kids as he passed through the eight-feet of snow from the barricaded area where fans watch.
White saw Ben in his USA beanie cap and waving his miniature American flag. He leapt over the barrier, catching some of the best air of his career.
Both kids were shocked and didn’t know what to say at first. They all exchanged hugs and talked for about a minute.
Liz Hughes was soon in tears and just a normal another day at the Olympics quickly turned into her dream come true.
For more on this story visit: Mike Wise, Washington Post