Edmonton Oilers 'Heartbroken' After 6-Year-Old Superfan Ben Stelter Dies of Brain Cancer
Mike Stelter/Twitter Ben Stelter
The Edmonton Oilers are mourning the loss of six-year-old superfan Ben Stelter, who the team called a "dear friend, number one fan, good luck charm and inspiration."
Ben's father, Mike Stelter, confirmed his son's passing in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. "The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night. Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best bud ever," Mike wrote.
According to ESPN, Ben was diagnosed with a form of brain cancer just before his 5th birthday, and underwent multiple surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy.
The Oilers released their own statement Wednesday, offering condolences to Ben's family and paying tribute to the boy's contribution to their team. "Ben came into all of our lives at a time when we needed some hope and inspiration," the statement read. "Although small in stature, Ben's impact on our team and community was massive."
Ben got the full post-game MVP treatment last night. 🧡💙 pic.twitter.com/BlldWA28VJ
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) March 26, 2022
Ben first met his favorite hockey team in March, when the Oilers invited him to attend their game against the San Jose Sharks. The Edmonton team decked Ben out in his own custom jersey and had him fist bump each player as they walked to the locker room.
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And as the Oilers fought through the 2022 NHL playoffs, reaching the conference finals for the first time since 2006, they kept Ben in mind.
"At a time when he was going through his own struggles with his illness, he and his family gave us their time and their friendship, allowing to get to know Ben and be touched by his charm, his courage and his infectious giggle," the team said. "He was such a huge part of what made last season so special to all of us and forever more we will 'Play La Bamba' in his memory."
The Edmonton Oilers Ben Stelter and Edmonton Oilers
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The Oilers ended by offering their condolences to Ben's family and thanking the Stelters for allowing them time to get to know Ben. "We extend our sincere condolences to Mike, Lea, Emmy, Dylan and the entire Stelter family. We thank you for allowing us to share this last year with Ben and you will forever be a part of the Oilers family. Rest in peace, Ben."
They also posted a tribute to Ben on the team's Instagram account, with footage of his time with Oilers players on the rink and in the locker room. "Obviously, Ben is as big an Oilers fan as you're going to see," said the Oilers' star center Connor McDavid, in an interview before Ben's death. "It's an absolutely tragic situation and you know, something that you can't really wrap your head around. He's such a good little guy."
McDavid added, "You never want to see a kid go through something like that. Any joy that we could bring him was always worth it."