Blackhawks grant 12-year-old boy’s wish to be a member of the team

SHARE Blackhawks grant 12-year-old boy’s wish to be a member of the team

Mason Berg watches the Hawks practice Tuesday. | Madeline Kenney/Sun-Times

All 12-year-old Mason Berg wanted was to be part of the Blackhawks, and his wish came true last week.

Berg lives with muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair to get around.

Despite his inability to play regular ice hockey like some of his peers, Berg is an avid hockey fan and has always wanted to play for the Hawks.

Berg’s mother, Patty Berg, thinks her son could be a coach.

Earlier this month, Hawks alum Brian Campbell surprised Berg at school in Midlothian with a Patrick Sharp sweater and an invite to practice with the team and watch the Hawks play the Colorado Avalanche.

Berg sat behind the net for practice with his parents and pointed at players when they skated by the glass. It wasn’t until the end when the fun for Berg really began.

He slid himself out of the stadium chair and lifted himself into his wheelchair as Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane met him near the Zamboni door. Schmaltz and Kane then skated him off to center ice to meet with the rest of the team.

Although Berg was the only person on the ice with wheels, he said he felt like he was one with the team.

Berg, who calls himself a “really big” Blackhawks fan, participated in various drills with the Hawks, scored a few goals on Anton Forsberg and even dropped the mitts for a good ole fashioned hockey fight with captain Jonathan Toews.

He also got to meet his two favorite players, Kane and Brandon Saad. Berg said he likes Saad for his hair style and likes Kane for his stick handling abilities.

Although Berg lives with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, he’s like any other mischievous and energetic boy his age.

Toews found that out firsthand when he fell victim to one of Berg’s pranks.

Berg loosened Toews’ water bottle lid, then encouraged him to drink out of the bottle.

“He lifted it up, and the cap hit him, and all the water dumped on him,” Berg said with a laugh.

Berg thought the Hawks were helping him by letting him live out his dream, but Berg did far more for the Hawks, according to the team. He gave the Hawks (28-30-8) a sense of perspective.

“There’s hockey, and then there are things like that,” coach Joel Quenneville said about the energy Berg brought onto the ice.

“Kids like him will always put a smile on your face,” Toews said. “It just doesn’t seem like anything can make them unhappy or throw them off their day. A kid like him puts it in perspective for us.”

Hours after morning skate, Berg was still beaming.

Would he ever stop smiling?

“No,” he said.

Patty Berg was nearly in tears after she watched her son field questions from a media scrum just like Toews, Kane and Quenneville usually do.

“Today was very special,” she said. “It’s something he’ll never ever forget, and neither will I.

“I’m going to have a happy little kid for quite awhile.”

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