Ben Stelter’s Legacy: More Than Play La Bamba, Baby
Photo credit:Mike Stelter
2 months ago
When the Ben Stelter Fund was created last December after he passed away at age six on August 8 after a prolonged battle with a form of brain cancer, glioblastoma, Ben’s father Mike told me his family was looking forward to the project. He saw it as an opportunity to do some good and “make Ben proud.”
Here we are just eight months since the fund began in the name of a little boy who grabbed fans of the Edmonton Oilers and many of the players themselves by the heartstrings during the 2022 playoffs, and the fund has now raised more than $1 million with the support of the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation.
The latest bump to the fund came at the NHL Awards Show held in Nashville. Captain Connor McDavid and NHL on TNT analyst Paul Bissonnette each donated $10,000 with the Stelter family, Mike, mom Lea, and sisters Dylan and Emmy in attendance to present McDavid with the Hart Memorial Trophy.
To borrow from Mike, that’s something the entire Stelter family and a fanbase that embraced Ben from the moment he stepped on the ice beside McDavid for the anthems as the Scotia Bank Skater before a 5-2 win over San Jose on March 24, can be proud of.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The fund, with four separate projects on the go right now, will be used to help families dealing with cancer treatments like the Stelter family did, help provide and fund equipment that isn’t covered by insurance, invest in research and invest in venture philanthropy by providing assistance to unique startups and cancer treatments.
“He meant a lot to our group and to me as well,” said McDavid, who grew especially close to Ben during the stretch drive to the playoffs and into the post-season. “He was an amazing little guy and just to see his life and how much energy and excitement he brought to our group, even while going through something like that, it was amazing to see, and it definitely taught me a lot of lessons.”
“The fund has exceeded our expectations,” Lea Stelter told Derek Van Diest of NHL.com this week. “It really helps our hearts. It’s almost been a year (since Ben’s death) and Mike and I say we don’t know what we would have done without this fund for the last year.
“We get to meet families who are going through what we went through and to be able to know that we’re giving back and doing something positive for them, I think it’s a huge help to our hearts, and we get to put ourselves in their shoes.”
THE BOTTOM LINE
Mike and Lea Stelter know first-hand the challenges facing other families with a child battling cancer. They have walked “in their shoes.” Now, they’re helping families navigate a road so heart-wrenching I can’t even imagine the journey – a road they are now travelling without Ben. How proud he must be.
AN UPDATE FROM THE STELTER FAMILY
There’s been a significant development with the Stelter family that was made public today. After months of back pain, Mike Stelter has been diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his spine. Having already been through so much with the loss of their son, Mike and Lea will be leaving for Pennsylvania where Mike will undergo an initial seven weeks of treatment.
You can read the entire item from Lea’s sister Danielle Ribich on the GoFundMe page she has set up here. Please consider donating if you are able. Please, help if you can.
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