Jimmy Howard, Red Wings give young woman an unforgettable surprise before her double mastectomy

Matt Larkin
Kelly and Howard

Kelly Rothe, 20, did a rare and brave thing Friday. She underwent a preventative double mastectomy, meaning she had both her breasts surgically removed. After losing her mother to breast cancer, Kelly, hailing from Ann Arbor, Mich., was tested for the BRCA1 gene mutation. The result was positive, meaning she has an 87 percent chance of contracting breast cancer.

Kelly thus made the courageous choice to get the jump on cancer and have the surgery. And she did so with a bit of extra resolve after the Detroit Red Wings and goaltender Jimmy Howard, her favorite player, gave her an unforgettable experience, including dinner and an unexpected flower delivery.

This video, courtesy of Fox 2 Detroit, tells the story better than I can. Take the four minutes to watch it:

There’s something pure about the connection between fans enduring struggles and the athletes they cheer for. It’s a role reversal in which the larger-than-life sports icons are humbled by what other people accomplish. Kudos to the Red Wings for treating Kelly and her family to a dinner, music and an amazing dressing room experience at Joe Louis Arena. And a stick tap to the always personable Howard for making his special presentation.

Credit to Kukla’s korner for getting the word out about this story. It’s the kind that can’t see enough eyeballs. Best of luck to Kelly!

Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blogFor more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazineFollow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin