17-year-old heart patient earns Sharks-sized wish

SAP CENTER — You are a straight up liar if you say that you didn’t get choked up and misty-eyed when Sam Tageson appeared on the cube above center ice at Tuesday night’s Sharks’ game.

The 17-year-old Make-A-Wish Foundation recipient had already spent a dream day with the team. He took shifts with them during morning skate and even hosting the media midday.

But the crowd full of hockey faithful were in for an even bigger treat as Tageson — a youth hockey player born with a rare heart condition — became the first non-player to suit up and skate out through the colossal Sharks head to “Seek And Destroy” with the team.

Skating onto NHL ice to one of the most bad ass entrances in all of professional sports?

Watching that moment alone was worth the price of admission, particularly since Tageson filed out behind Patrick Marleau decked out in his own teal sweater and helmet as if he made that entrance all the time.

Tageson remains active despite hypoplastic heart syndrome, and his energy carried throughout the night despite his team losing a 3-2 decision to the visiting Florida Panthers.

Defenseman Jason Demers took to social media afterwards to express his feelings:

A professional hockey player calling the pro-for-a-day a role model. If that hasn’t made you want to cry tears of joy, you might as well be a cyborg void of all emotions.

But the moment that made sure there wasn’t be a dry eye in the house, was when the cameras focused on Tageson following “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The announcer introduced him and the Tuesday night crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Then Tageson, the honorary Shark, the subject of the whole heart-warming tear-jerking story, became so overwhelmed with emotion that he broke down and started bawling.


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