The New York Rangers will try to avoid being swept by the Los Angeles Kings on home ice Wednesday night, but they’ll also be trying to pull out a win for one person in attendance.
Ranger fan Bobby Ackerman was planning on passing on his fandom to his daughter Madison, who he bought a tiny Henrik Lundqvist jersey for even before she was born on December 4, 2013. But in April, four short months after Madison’s birth, Ackerman went through something no parent should ever have to: the loss of his child.
Madison passed away in her sleep on April 11, the same week the Rangers began their playoff run. Ackerman said the Rangers were “the only thing keeping me from thinking horrible thoughts.”
Fellow Ranger fan Shawn Revell took notice of Ackerman’s situation and though the two had never met before, Revell started a movement to get the grieving father to a Stanley Cup final game.
Here’s more from Steve Politi of NJ.com:
Word of his loss spread through social media. Shawn Revell, who runs a Facebook site called New York Rangers Memes, had never met Ackerman but he had a 9-month-old daughter. He started talking to the other administrators on the site.
“We all just said, ‘We need to do something for this guy,’” said Revell, who recently retired from the army and lives in Fort Hood, N.C. “We agreed if the Rangers made the finals, we were going to find a way to get him there.”
So, soon after the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals, Revell created a page on GoFundMe.com. He placed a photo of Ackerman, holding up a sign with two photos of his daughter and that tiny Lundqvist jersey hanging from the bottom, next to the Prince of Wales Trophy.
The message was simple: He wanted to raise enough money for one Stanley Cup Final ticket and a jersey with Madison’s name and the No. 4 – meaning forever.
Donations were received from fans across the NHL, from New York to New Jersey and even Los Angeles, the team the Rangers are fighting against in the Cup final. And because of the wonderful family of hockey fandom, Ackerman will be sitting behind Lundqvist in Section 102 for Game 4 Wednesday night, holding the sign as tribute to his lost daughter.
And he’ll be there on the two-month anniversary of Madison’s passing.