A SPORTS fan living with terminal cancer has been granted a lifetime wish by his most cherished Coventry team.
Coventry Blaze supporter Kevin White has been fighting esophageal cancer for 15 months – undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy, suffering from multiple organ failures and having to rely on a ventilator to keep him alive.
Despite overcoming various challenges, the ‘noisy guy from block eight’ learnt in August that his cancer had spread to his liver, small bowel and stomach.
But, as with the darkest of clouds, there has been a silver lining.
Earlier this season, Blaze 50/50 raffle ticket seller Tim Ansell worked with the club to arrange a special night for Kevin.
Against all odds, the Bedworth-based hockey fan was named coach of the Coventry Blaze for the club’s home game against Braehead Clan on September 16 – a game which Blaze won.
He then made a return to the Skydome’s home bench on Saturday, December 23, as Danny Stewart’s men took on fierce rivals Milton Keynes in a Patton Conference clash – played in front of thousands of fans.
Remarkably, Kevin’s 100 per cent record continued as goals from Ben Lake, Marco Vallerand, Adam Courchaine and Jordan Pietrus helped Blaze to a thrilling 5-3 win.
Coach Kev, as he is now known, may only have months to live, but the community spirit and support shown by the Blaze has helped his battle.
And he now has a new goal, to see his son marry in May.
Kevin told the Observer: “The club and fans have been amazing to me and my family in my battle.
“I was told I had until Christmas without treatment or maybe summer with treatment.
“With all the support from my family, friends and Blaze, I will battle as long as I can.”
Kevin’s wife Michelle added: “No matter how tired, ill or pained Kevin feels, the support network and the atmosphere at Blaze games will always inspire him and remind him to keep on fighting.
“Kevin takes great comfort knowing that I can, and will, continue to come along to the games.
“I will never be on my own as we have made many close friends who are a superb source of support, of whom we can’t thank enough.”
Experiencing a game from the benches proved a different challenge for Kevin, who admitted the task of being Blaze coach was an ‘eye opener’ into the game he loves.
After joining in the routine pre-game tactical chat in the locker room to discuss lines and the opposition, Kevin stood shoulder to shoulder with head coach Danny Stewart and director of hockey James Pease as the national anthem was played.
Throughout the games he remained a focal point on the Blaze bench, joining in with tactical discussions and providing the roster with a mental boost.
Kevin said: “Gaining fist pumps from the guys in front of me when goals were scored, engaging with me above and beyond the call of duty, is testament to the kind of team we have here in Coventry.
“The guys in the dressing room post-game allowed me to witness winning celebratory rituals – they presented me with a chorus of ‘three cheers for Coach Kevin’ and a signed stick with a personalised message on it.
“This opportunity gave me a chance to create a fantastic memory which will be carried forward by my family for many years to come.”
Coventry Blaze next play at home on Sunday against Milton Keynes (5.15pm).