Colorado Eagles and UCHealth cook up Halloween surprise for young patient

Mother says fun surprises are like a 'bit of light' for boy fighting cancer
Oct. 31, 2018

four colorado eagle players lined up with boy in front

Boy and mother open envelop with tickets in it.
Kolemen Gairrett and his mother, Lindy Gairrett, of Columbus, Montana, take a look at Colorado Eagles game tickets they received as a gift from the Eagles organization. Kolemen got a surprise Halloween visit from four Eagles players at the UCHealth Cancer Center – Harmony Campus in Fort Collins on Oct 31, 2018. Photos by Ashley Potts, Colorado Eagles.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Ten-year-old Kolemen Gairrett wasn’t able to go trick-or-treating with his buddies this year.

More than 500 miles from his home in Columbus, Montana, he is in Fort Collins undergoing radiation treatment for anaplastic ependymoma, a rare form of brain cancer, at UCHealth Cancer Center – Harmony Campus.

But, his care team at UCHealth teamed up the Colorado Eagles to cook up a special Halloween treat for Kolemen.

Four Eagles players stopped by the cancer center to surprise Kolemen after his treatment session Wednesday afternoon. They came toting the Kelly Cup trophy filled with candy and a couple of other exciting surprises up their sleeves: a hockey puck and enough tickets to Saturday’s game against the Tucson Roadrunners in Loveland for Kolemen and his family to attend together.

Boy transfers Halloween candy from Kelly Cup trophy to a Halloween trick-or-treating bucket.
Kolemen digs into Halloween candy that the Colorado Eagles brought as part of their visit.

Eagles defenseman and team captain Mark Alt, defenseman Mason Geertsen, defenseman Ryan Graves and goaltender Spencer Martin autographed the hockey puck and chatted with Kolemen about hockey and baseball following the big surprise.

The special visit from the Eagles tops off a fun Halloween week for Kolemen, who also was treated to a VIP experience at last weekend’s Colorado State University football game against University of Wyoming, thanks to UCHealth’s partnership with the organization.

Dr. Arthur Liu, a UCHealth radiation oncologist at UCHealth Radiation Oncology – Harmony Campus in Fort Collins, Colo., poses with Kolemen and the Kelly Cup trophy after the surprise visit from the Colorado Eagles.

“No one wants to miss out on Halloween – especially a 10-year-old,” said JoAnn Lovins, senior director of UCHealth’s cancer care services in northern Colorado. “We are thrilled that our partners at the Colorado Eagles and CSU were as excited as we were to give Kolemen and his family a Halloween to remember.”

The added touches have made a big difference for Kolemen and his family as he receives treatment so far from family and friends, according his mother, Lindy Gairrett.

“It makes him have a positive in his day versus the worry or not feeling great and missing home,” she said. “It’s a little bit of light in the day to keep pushing through to the next stage and move on. It’s been fantastic.”

About the author

Kelly Tracer is a media relations specialist at UCHealth, based in northern Colorado. For nearly 20 years, she worked as a newspaper reporter, editor and designer before diving into the world of health care communications.

She believes there is an amazing story inside everyone and considers it an honor to get to meet and work with so many extraordinary people – patients, families, providers, volunteers and staff – every day. She is also fascinated by health care innovation and programs that empower and inspire people and families to live healthier lives.

A native of Nebraska, Kelly received a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. She and her husband have two children and enjoy paddle boarding all summer and skiing all winter.