Matthew Block’s heart will be racing with excitement when he skates with the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday at Rogers Arena.
Next week though, doctors will clinically stress the heart of this 10-year-old Campbell River boy to determine if he requires surgery to correct a congenital defect.
“To win this trip for Matthew to be with the Canucks is amazing,” says his mom Stefanie. “It makes us so happy to bring a little bit of joy into his life when he is going through and facing so much.”
Block, a high-scoring forward on the Atom B rep hockey team, will don his Tyees’ jersey when he meets the members of his favourite NHL club after winning Save-On-Foods “Every Kids Dream” contest.
He gets to skate in the warm-up and join the starters on the blue line for the singing of the national anthems. It’s the first game back for the Canucks after the Olympic break and they’ll be taking on the St. Louis Blues.
“It’s going to be great!” he says, his blue eyes already twinkling with anticipation.
Block and his folks stopped by the grocery store on Friday to pick up their four tickets and $500 in spending money from Save-On Manager Dave Madiuk.
“I don’t get to spend it all,” Block quickly points out, noting that most of it will be spent on the ferry and hotel.
Cheering on Block will be his mom, dad Jim and older brother Kyle. Block is looking forward to every moment and he’s also hoping one of the players slips him a Vancouver jersey.
He doesn’t have one, but on Friday he tried on a signed team jersey which Save-On is raffling off in support of BC Children’s Hospital. The significance was not lost on his folks who are grateful for the health care their son is receiving at BC Children’s and other hospitals.
“He’s getting really good care…he’s the toughest and bravest kid…so brave,” says Stefanie.
It looks as if she’s about to cry, but then her little hockey player gives her a quick, firm pep talk, “Mom, I’m going to be FINE!”
Block always appeared “fine.” The youngest of five, he was always active and began playing hockey at age five.
Then, about a year ago, he began complaining of a “thump” in his chest. Doctors thought it was nothing unusual, perhaps a muscle spasm or “stitch” which isn’t too uncommon with fast-growing children.
Still, the thump persisted, but nothing appeared out of the ordinary. However, just to be sure, Block was sent to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver where he was put through a battery of heart-stress tests.
Again, the boys seemed healthy, but as one last precaution they sent him for an ultrasound. And that’s when the anomaly of the right coronary artery showed up.
“He’s had it since birth and we never knew,” says Stefanie. “It truly is a blessing to have found it! We had no idea that it would lead up to open heart surgery.”
There’s still a chance Block can avoid surgery. On March 4, he will be at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver where he will undergo another series of tests.
This time they inject his body with drugs to stimulate the heart, to determine the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients and to determine the extent of the strain.
“That will determine our next move,” says Stefanie. “Through all this, Matthew is being so strong. If he sees me with tears after I’ve just gotten off the phone with his doctor, he is the one that comes up and puts his arms around me and says, ‘Mom its all going to be okay.’ He truly is an amazing young man.”
Another amazing person to the Block family is Rosi Temple. The former neighbour now lives in Powell River, but the Block boys are still near and dear to her heart.
That’s why she continues to fill out their names at Save-On-Foods for the Every Kids Dream contest. She’s been doing it for the past year and then good fortune came at a time when the family needed it most.
“Oh, I want to thank Save-On-Foods and I want to thank Rosi!” says Block with a smile.
Block scored twice and added two assists Saturday in a 9-2 win over Victoria’s Racquet Club. Then on Sunday, he scored again in a 7-6 victory over Comox. He now has 29 goals on the season for the Nyrstar Atom B Tyees. His favourite Canuck is Daniel Sedin.