Why my daughter’s goal was to skate with hockey player Duncan Keith

In preparation for the 2008-2009 hockey season, the Chicago Blackhawks created a marketing campaign titled “A goal.” Players and staff have declared their personal goals for the year to showcase the individuality of each team member.

In 2015, the Blackhawks organization extended the campaign to fans, inviting them to share their goals on social media using the hashtag #WhatsYourGoal.

My daughter camy, 12, has been a huge Blackhawks fan since attending her first game in 2013, where she smiled the entire time. So when the #WhatsYourGoal campaign launched, I asked Cammy if she wanted to post a response. Because Rett Syndrome deprived her of speech, her eyes lit up with a smile to tell me: “Yes!

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First, I asked him what his goal was. Through a series of yes or no questions, Cammy indicated that she wanted to skate on the ice with a player and score a goal.

Next, she had to pick a Blackhawks player. Selfishly, I tried to sway her decision by enthusiastically asking her if she wanted to skate with Patrick Sharp. To my dismay, she looked away to indicate “No.” I named several other Blackhawks stars, including Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but Cammy kept looking away.

Then she smiled at me and a light bulb went on in my head when I saw her missing tooth. “Do you want to skate with Duncan Keith?” She gave me a dreamy fangirl look.

I had forgotten, although obviously not Cammy, that when she lost her first tooth, her father and I explained to her that it is normal to lose baby teeth. Trying to make her laugh, we released clips of Keith getting hit in the mouth with a puck during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2010, which made him lose several teeth. I never realized how much of an impact that had on her.

That day, Cammy saw Keith as more than a hockey player. She saw his physical and mental strength. She acknowledged that he didn’t have the most glorious position, as defensive players often don’t get as much public attention, but his grit, work ethic and pride contributed to the success of the team. He represented all the characteristics we see in Cammy.

Duncan Keith |  Rett Syndrome News |  Cammy smiled as she leaned back on her elbows.  She poses between her pink braces, which feature Chicago Blackhawks decals.

In 2014, Cammy designed her own braces to show her love for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)

When Cammy named Keith as the player she wanted to skate with, I immediately thought of a photo of her posing in her orthotics, which featured Blackhawks decals. I uploaded it to social media and wrote, “Cammy’s goal is to score a goal with an assist from her favorite player, Duncan Keith.

A few days later, I got a message from a production agency saying the Blackhawks wanted to make Cammy’s goal a reality.

A week later we filmed Cammy’s Video #WhatsYourGoal with Keith. It was the start of a beautiful friendship.

Duncan Keith |  Rett Syndrome News |  Chicago Blackhawks player Duncan Keith takes a selfie with Cammy before achieving his goal of skating with him.

Duncan Keith took a selfie with Cammy as soon as he met her in 2015. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)

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Catherine J. Martinez