Meet Thea Kathleen Roelofsen, or as family and friends also know her…T-Bird.
T-Bird is a Titan! This wise and wonderful 8-year-old possessed many superpowers that propelled her enviable exuberance for life and uncanny ability to see the wonderment and awe that surrounded her each and every day. Perhaps you can see from that glorious and infectious smile, those sparkly and slightly mischievous blue eyes, a fearless and joyful spirit of confidence and wisdom that far exceeded her age.
Perhaps it was this combination of characteristics that captivated the heart of Dougie Hamilton, who at the time of their first meeting, Halloween of 2016, was a towering 6’ 6", bun-haired, Princess Leia. Dougie and his Calgary Flames teammates, including his brother Freddie, were brightening the day for kids in treatment at the Alberta Children’s Hospital.
At the time of their serendipitous encounter, T-Bird was receiving chemotherapy following a diagnosis at the end of her grade one year for Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Dougie popped his head into her hospital room to for a chat and some photos. As luck and Thea’s charisma would have it, these two became fast friends, and for the months that followed, they conspired to inspire one another and those around them!
Thea was the happiest sick child you could ever see. She battled with a fearlessness, confidence and spirit that left even her doctors in awe. Her final day at school, just three days before she passed, Thea insisted on attending to sing “Let There Be Peace on Earth” at her school’s Remembrance Day assembly. The Hamilton brothers were among the last of friends and family to see Thea days before she passed. Concerned about her decline, they came to Thea’s bedside and gifted her their “Hockey Fights Cancer” jerseys both purchasing their own via silent auction that raised funds to support cancer research. Dougie sat beside her bed, held her hand and kept watchful company as she weakened. Thea passed away peacefully on November 13th, 2017, wearing the “hockey player sized” Flames t-shirt gifted her by her buddy.
For 18 months, T-Bird endured the trials of her cancer treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, surgeries and an endless number of pokes and prods. Her days were made so much more tolerable knowing that a night at the movies, post-game locker room visits, a surprise floor hockey game at school, visits to hospice or at home, crafting and playing games of Uno and Headbands were in store with her hockey playing heroes! Most importantly for Thea was her ability to keep tabs on her bestie with their endless exchange of comical snap chats. This incredibly special relationship provided T-Bird a daily dose of joy, excitement and encouragement that would keep her smiling to the end. It should also be noted, that the Calgary Flames never lost a game that T-Bird attended, she was quite a good luck charm!
The last Flames game Thea attended was on November 4th, 2017. It was “Hockey Fights Cancer Night” and in selfless Dougie fashion, he honored Thea by wrapping his stick in purple tape and writing her name on the blade. This demonstration of love, friendship and support inspired many local players and teams to do the same. The act was infectious…as so many shared in Dougie’s intention to spread his and Thea’s mission of love and kindness and to honor her impossible cancer journey.
Even with Dougie’s assignments to North Carolina and now New Jersey, he continues in his compassionate and thoughtful way, to honor his friend. This year at the New Jersey Devil’s “Hockey Fights Cancer” night, Dougie designed and had made a very special stick that honored their connection. A smiley Devil emoji, for this emoji loving 8 year old, Thea’s signature, and logo’s for the T-Cup, a local hockey tournament held in her honor and of course, Dougie’s signature. All symbols of their shared mission of love, Thea’s legacy and Dougie’s endearing kindness. Thea’s name mean “Goddess of Light”, she will forever be a bright and shining light, and a beacon for the countless many, whose hearts, like Dougie’s she touched.
Proceeds from the sale of Thea’s stick will go directly to the Thea Roelofsen Legacy Fund in support of pediatric oncology projects and organization.
To make a donation in Thea’s honour visit www.calgaryfoundation.org