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Lidstrom grants a wish as Wings reach out to youth

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As some of you may know, I'm a PR and community relations intern for the Detroit Red Wings. I do my best to keep work and this blog separate and I never blog about things I learn at work that are not yet public. Anyways, as a CR intern I help with meet and greets after practice and games among many other things. I would normally never discuss the kids and families I work with as that's private information but two articles have recently been published so I wanted to pass them along.

As On the Forecheck discussed in a recent blog post, a teenager named Derek Zike was paralyzed from the waist down after slipping on the ice and hitting his head on the boards during a hockey game in Ann Arbor back in January. The Chicago Fury AAA travel team forward has seen plenty of support from the hockey community following the injury.

As you can see in this Indy Star article, Jarome Iginla stopped by to talk to Zike following the Wings-Flames game on March 12th at Joe Louis Arena. A lot of other hockey players, primarily Wings, also spoke with Zike following the game too as you can see in Derek's get well website photo page. In addition, head coach Mike Babcock visited Zike in the hospital as did four University of Michigan hockey players back in January. As you can see, Derek and his family have gotten a lot of support to help them through this challenging period in their lives.

This past weekend, the Wings also hosted a meet and greet with another out-of-towner. This time, it was Nick Kaufman and his family from Maple Grove, Minn. According to articles in the Detroit Free Press and on, Kaufman had six rounds of chemo to treat leukemia causing him to stay in the hospital from April through September of 2008. When it came time for Kaufman to make a wish, he opted to skate with Nicklas Lidstrom on the ice and attend a game in Detroit. His second choice was to go to Italy and visit a Ferrari factory.

Lidstrom said this is the second time he has met a youth through Make-A-Wish, but the first time he has skated with one.

"I'm happy that I can help out with something that's very simple for me," Lidstrom said. "I'm here every day, so it feels good to make a kid happy like this. Makes me feel a little special, too."

Told the boy chose to meet him over a trip to Italy, Lidstrom chuckled, saying, "I have to be honored then. I've been to Italy, it's beautiful. Maybe he'll get his chance to go to Italy, too."

Kaufman and his family had a chance to skate on the Joe Louis Arena ice on Saturday. Nick skated with Lidstrom and even took some shots on goaltender Ty Conklin, scoring at least once. The family then watched the Wings host the Nashville Predators on Sunday and participated in a meet and greet with the team following the game. While I'm not going to discuss what happened during the meet and greet since it was not publicized, I do want to say that this was a wonderful family and the Wings along with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan were happy to grant this young boy's wish.

You don't see too many of these types of articles in the paper, but please trust me that these types of meet and greets happen throughout the year. It's amazing how great these hockey players are with the kids and families and what a difference it can make to them. Personally, I'm always honored to help with one of these meetings and it's just a joy to watch the players and kids interact.