Meeting your hero is unforgettable, but for a boy in Oak Bay, his hero also happens to be his friend.
Simon Hoskins is a Grade 2 student at Willows Elementary, and in a city full of Canucks fans, he’s a Columbus Blue Jackets fan. But he wasn’t a hockey fan until about a year ago.
“I went to Philadelphia for some medical stuff,” says Simon. “That’s when I met Ivan Provorov.”
Ivan Provorov is an eight-year NHL veteran and while playing for the Philadelphia Flyers he was introduced to Simon though a family friend. The two hit it off immediately.
“Simon has a spark, and some people he just connects with instantly through kind of an old soul perspective,” says his mom, Bec Hoskins.
The “medical stuff” is something Simon and his family have endured since his diagnosis with Mucopolysaccharidosis, a rare disease where children experience an abnormal accumulation of complex sugars in their cells, which affects many of the systems in their bodies.
“Our bodies naturally produce enzymes that keep our bodies clean on a cellular level,” Bec Hoskins explains. “There’s cellular garbage being produced just by being alive. In Simon’s type of Mucopolysarcharidosis (MPS), he’s missing an enzyme that doesn’t clean up the cellular garbage, so it accumulates. For him, it accumulates mostly on his bones, but it actually accumulates cellular garbage in every cell in his body.”
For Simon, it means dwarfism, and she says Simon will stop growing in a couple of years. Simon’s years since his diagnosis have been marked by surgeries, and in April he will undergo surgery to rebuild his hips.
For Simon, hockey – and his friendship with Provorov – is a shining light.
The full NHL experience
Last Saturday, the Columbus Blue Jackets were in Vancouver to play the Canucks, and they got an invitation to reconnect with Provorov.
“I got to go to the 5-on-5 meeting and the powerplay meeting,” says Simon.
The Hoskins’ spent the afternoon with Provorov, going for lunch and even driving him and a teammate to the rink.
“We just said, why don’t we swing by the hotel?” said Becs. “He said sure, but can the goalie come too?”
While driving NHL players to the rink in the family van is one thing, another rarity was witnessed pre-game, when Simon was asked to come into the dressing room and read out the starting lineup.
The moment was captured on video and shows Simon reading out the names of the starters, including Provorov, before a rousing round of applause from the players.
“It was fun meeting the guys,” says Simon. “I’m gonna miss them.”
Simon plans on keeping contact with Provorov through the second half of the season, and his VIP NHL experience is a core memory. It’s something to balance the tough days ahead, including his upcoming surgery which will see him stay in Vancouver for a two-month recovery.
When asked what he thinks about surgery, Simon sees the bright spot. “It’s good,” he says. “You get a popsicle after.”
The Hoskins family is raising money and awareness for MPS research through their website curemps.ca.