Coyotes, Make-A-Wish Arizona team up to bring backyard rink to young fan

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After practicing with the Arizona Coyotes, Max Melissa now has his own practice facility.

Melissa, a 6-year-old with tricuspid atresia, received a backyard roller hockey rink at his home from the Coyotes and the Arizona chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Melissa was one of two young Coyotes fans who virtually attended practice as part of Arizona’s children hospital visit Dec. 7. Make-A-Wish Arizona gifted him the 20-by-40 foot rink two days earlier, and Coyotes mascot Howler was on hand for the presentation.

Tweet from @MakeAWishAZ: Today, Max was so excited to see his wish for a backyard roller hockey rink! Even @howlercoyote was there to surprise Max with tons of @arizonacoyotes swag. Thank you to everyone who was a part of making Max���s wish possible! pic.twitter.com/vZvNZrinE3

The practice rink was the first such gifted by Make-A-Wish Arizona.

“One of the things that has been very difficult for Max… has been finding a place where just he and his family can play especially since he’s immunocompromised,” Matthew Wall, the project manager at Make-A-Wish Arizona, told the Coyotes website. “So we had the privilege and the opportunity to start the conversation with Max and his family about what this looked like.” 

Melissa played hockey in the Phoenix suburb of Peoria, Arizona until he underwent a second open-heart surgery in July 2019. The rink will enable Melissa to keep participating in the sport he loves with his brother, Mark, who also plays in Peoria.

“Max’s love has been hockey from the beginning,” Max’s mom, Erica, told the Coyotes website. “He has grown up in the rink. He’s followed his 12-year-old brother, and he’s doing everything he can to follow in those footsteps.

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