Bobby Ackerman loves the New York Rangers so much that when his daughter was born, he bought her a tiny Henrik Lundqvist jersey and promised that when the Rangers made the Stanley Cup finals, she would be with him. Sadly, he never got the chance, as Madison tragically died in her sleep in April after living only four months.
Word spread about Ackerman’s loss on social media, and soon Rangers fans were banding together to help out a fellow fan who had suffered an unimaginable loss.
Here’s Steve Politi of the Newark Star-Ledger with more (please read the whole thing, and have tissues ready):
Shawn Revell, who runs a Facebook site called New York Rangers Memes, had never met Ackerman but he had a 9-month-old daughter. He started talking to the other administrators on the site.
“We all just said, ‘We need to do something for this guy,’” said Revell, who recently retired from the army and lives in Fort Hood, Texas. “We agreed if the Rangers made the finals, we were going to find a way to get him there.”
So, soon after the Rangers eliminated the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference finals, Revell created a page on GoFundMe.com. He placed a photo of Ackerman, holding up a sign with two photos of his daughter and that tiny Lundqvist jersey hanging from the bottom, next to the Prince of Wales Trophy.
The message was simple: He wanted to raise enough money for one Stanley Cup Final ticket and a jersey with Madison’s name and the No. 4 – meaning forever.
The donations began to mount. Within 24 hours, $1,000 had been rasied, and then an anonymous donor — “somebody popular in the New York area,” Revell said to Politi — donated $1,500 to double the total. Fans of all stripes pitched in: Devils fans, Islanders fans, even fans of the Kings, whom the Rangers were playing in the Stanley Cup finals. Soon, they had enough to get him into Wednesday night’s Game 4, which the Rangers won to stay alive in the series. Ackerman brought the Lundqvist jersey with him.
“I still can’t find the words,” Ackerman told Politi. “I’m just your average guy who loves hockey. The hockey community is the best thing in the world. Without it, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”