ST. LOUIS (KDKA) – One of the NHL’s biggest stars has formed a special bond with a young girl battling cancer. Now, he’s given her a birthday surprise she’ll never forget.
According to the Blues’ official website, 11-year-old Arianna Dougan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at the age of three. Since then, she has relapsed four times.
However, her current treatment is working and her mom, Lorie, said she is nearly cancer free again. That’s great news, but the story gets even better.
Over the past couple of years, the Dougans have formed a friendship with Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko. The two initially met during a Hockey Fights Cancer event in 2015. They have reconnected through various other events since.
On Monday, Tarasenko surprised Arianna with a special gift for her birthday.
WATCH: Tarasenko’s Big Surprise
Prior to the team’s practice, she was led into the Blues’ locker room where she was presented with an envelope. Inside, there was a piece of paper with the following:
“You are invited to join Vladimir Tarasenko as his guest to fly with the St. Louis Blues to Arizona and Colorado for a two-game road trip leaving on March 28 and returning on March 31. You and a guest will fly on the team charter plane and stay at the team hotel in Phoenix and Denver.”
The trip was actually one of the prizes available during a Blues Casino Night auction event. Tarasenko outbid everyone in order to give the gift to Arianna and her mother.
After receiving her gift, Arianna ran to Tarasenko and gave him a big hug as the team sang “Happy Birthday.”