The Pittsburgh Penguins helped celebrate Hockey Fights Cancer month by giving one brave fan her own special day with a big surprise from captain Sidney Crosby.
The Penguins brought Katie Dudas to PPG Paints Arena for what she thought was a day for many fans battling cancer and then was informed she was the only one being honored.
She received a custom Hockey Fights Cancer Penguins jersey with her name on it, and the team played encouraging messages on the dressing room’s video screen. She was quick to credit those around her for helping her through her difficult times.
“You have days when you’re done because everything going on is so hard on your body and your mind,” Dudas said. “Nothing is yours anymore and it’s really hard but just having people, the texts, knowing you have this team behind you is just amazing and that’s how I got through this. That’s why I still have the smile and the positive, it’s because of everybody around me.”
A few video messages played, then appeared Crosby, to her shock and delight.
“Hi Katie, congratulations on finishing your treatment,” Crosby said. “I hear you’re a pretty popular person at the games and also responsible for putting a lot of smiles on people’s faces. Oh behalf of myself and team, we just want to wish you much happiness, health moving forward, and just want to let you know how proud we are to have you on our team.”
For the grand finale, Dudas got to ring a bell signifying the end of her treatment for breast cancer. The bell was made by an employee at PPG Paints Arena, Cliff Weigand, to honor his brother Dennis who died of cancer last year.
“I can’t express how much this means to me because of everything with COVID,” Dudas said. “My mom wasn’t there every time I rang the bell with everything going on. So to have her here is just…”