As the Saskatoon Blades took aim at the Medicine Hat Tigers on Tuesday, one section of fans tucked away in suite 210 were cheering a little louder than most.
That’s where Karen and Jonathan Vandermey watched their sons Jaxyn and Kamryn dig into bowls full of popcorn as they watched every pass, shot and save in front of them.
The boys weren’t just having a night to remember, they were living a fantasy.
A month earlier, Jonathan was a contestant on C95’s Break the Bank contest. He was able to win $732 and win over the hearts of the community as listeners were told of recent challenges the family begun facing during his perfect play.
The 40-year-old was diagnosed with colon cancer four months ago and was unable to work as he underwent treatment. His wife Karen was laid off prior to Jonathan’s appearance on Break the Bank.
Listeners and local businesses knew the $732 in winnings wouldn’t be enough to help the family for very long. So they took action, sending in gift cards, donations and well wishes throughout the day.
One of the special gifts the family received was a VIP game night package from the Saskatoon Blades, and Tuesday was the night the Blades got to roll out the red carpet for the Warman family.
“The $732 that I won on C95 was the just the tip of the iceberg, really,” Jonathan said. “After my story got on the radio — I’m just completely astounded by the amount generosity that’s come out of Saskatoon and the whole area.”
As part of the VIP experience, the Vandermeys, joined by Grandma Edna, were picked up by Limelight Limos from the family’s front door in Warman and taken to Rook and Raven in downtown Saskatoon for a pre-game feast. Then, the limo drove right inside Sasktel Centre, where the boys toured the Blades locker room, were handed brand new jerseys and got to high-five and pump up Blades’ players as they stepped on to the ice.
“First, getting to see the Blades practice, and then getting to take a photo in their lockers and then getting the jerseys afterwards,” 12-year-old Kamryn said of his favourite parts of the day. “That was really, really fun.”
To finish off the special evening, the family was put up in a private suite filled with drinks and food for the entire game.
“Today’s been a very special day,” Jonathan said. “This is a once in a lifetime experience.”
While the gifts pour in for the whole family to enjoy, it was impossible not to notice the added excitement in Jaxyn and Kamryn’s eyes as they posed for pictures with Pokecheck, the Blades mascot, or cheered on goals from players they visited prior to the game.
“It just makes our hearts glow to see them so happy,” Karen said as she fought back some tears.
“Seeing her tear up,” Jonathan said looking at his wife. “It just once again goes to show you, once again, the generosity and the outpouring.”
“It’s insurmountable and something I never would have expected after getting on to C95.”
This wasn’t just the ninth home game on the Saskatoon Blades’ schedule. Sure, they were the draw on the ice, but the Vandermey family were the real stars on this night.