Dream Comes True for Power Wheelchair Hockey Player at the Vancouver Olympics

Matt and his family

Matt Vocino had his dream come true this winter when he and the family traveled to Vancouver for the Olympic Games.

The 12-year-old Lake Raiders defenseman experienced the trip of a lifetime courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, taking in the Canada-Russia quarterfinal game, a medal ceremony, the closing ceremony, as well as getting a private military tour.

Staying at the Sheraton Wall Centre afforded Vocino the chance to meet a number of celebrities who were in town, including US hockey players David Backes and Chris Drury, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Vocino said it was a special thrill when Drury let him hold his silver medal.

Meeting Canada hockey coach Mike Babcock was not exactly a moment to remember, however. “He was really grumpy when we first saw him after the (gold medal) game at 3 a.m., “he recalls. “(Babcock) ignored Matthew twice, but came to us the third time we called him and we got pictures taken with him.” Vocino’s mom Sylvia added.

Matt had a second wish granted when the family went on a five-hour tour of the military that included a one-on-one experience with the Navy, Army, bomb squad and RCMP. He even went on a helicopter ride over Vancouver, in which he could directly communicate with the pilot through his headphones. Matt seized the opportunity that day to race against and defeat a bomb squad robot.

Other highlights of the week included a boat ride over the Olympic rings and meeting skeleton gold medalist Jon Montgomery at Canada House, which was only supposed to be open to the athletes.

Make-A-Wish was extremely generous to Vocino, delivering boxes of presents to the hotel that required the family to buy additional luggage the night before leaving to pack all the gifts.

Donald is a published writer, blogger and editor, web designer, Diamond Jubilee Medalist and aspiring podcaster/voiceover guy. His personal interests include faith, movies, music, reading, writing, chocolate, a good laugh and socializing.


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