BOSTON — For baseball fans who have seen the film Field of Dreams, an Iowa cornfield is where dreams come true. But for eight-year old Sarah Pollow — a native of Iowa — Agganis Arena was a wish come true this weekend.
Allowed to be granted a wish by the remarkable Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sarah wanted nothing more than a trip to Boston to see her “hero,” Peter MacArthur, play hockey for Boston University. Sarah had come to know the Terrier centerman during his days playing for the national champion Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League.
In an emotional ceremony between the first and second periods, the crowd saw a video in which the crowd learned more about Sarah and her challenging battle with cerebral palsy. The video was followed by MacArthur presenting her with a Terrier jersey.
There were quite a few tears on the ice and in the stands.
“Isn’t that a nice story?” Terrier coach Jack Parker said after the game “Unbelievable story.”
Parker believed that Sarah’s presence had an impact on the star forward. “He certainly did [play one of his best games in quite a while],” Parker said. “I think he was jacked up.
“He was so surprised last night when we told him he was going to meet a recruit with one of my assistant coaches. He walked in and saw [the Pollow family] and said, ‘Wow! What are you guys doing here? Where’s the recruit?’ He didn’t figure it out right away
“What an organization, Make-A-Wish, to be able to provide that for that girl. You can talk to Peter about that, but it’s really a nice thing, an emotional thing. How would you like to be in her shoes and be treated pretty well tonight? That’s pretty nice. Nice going for Peter and the whole Black Hawks team out in Iowa to get involved with that.
“We do that stuff with autism people around here; that’s our association. But it’s nice that Waterloo does that for them, all of a sudden Peter has this relationship. ‘You can go anywhere? You want to go to Disney World? You want to go to Hawaii?’ ‘No, I want to watch Peter MacArthur play.’ And he had a great night.”
“I would’ve gone to Hawaii,” quipped MacArthur. He admitted that it was a challenge to control his emotions during the ceremony.
“That was tough to handle,” MacArthur said. “I didn’t know if I would be able to pull myself together and play the rest of the game. I was bawling. She’s just a special little girl.
“I was joking around with [teammate Ryan] Weston last night: ‘If we all had the mental toughness she does, we’d never lose a game,’” MacArthur said. “Because I’ve never met anyone in my entire life.. She’s gone through four major surgeries, and I’ve never heard a complaint out of her mouth about anything. I’m convinced she’s my good-luck charm. She carried us all the way to the National Championship in Waterloo, and who knows? It helped us win tonight; I’m sure of that.”
MacArthur’s friendship with Sarah dates back to her mom calling the team prior to one of her operations. “She had to have a surgery to have her nerves in her spine tapped to see which ones weren’t firing to help her walk,” MacArthur said. “Her mom called my coach, P.K. O’Handley, to ask if I would go see her. So I brought a couple of guys with me, and just realized what a sweet kid she was. We decided it would be neat to help her out, so we started a little charity at all the games. Ending up making about $10,000 for her, which didn’t really put a dent in the expenses: It helped pay for hotels and gas. Just felt like we needed to do something to help.”
MacArthur chuckled as he recalled how all the adults were in tears during the on-ice ceremony while Sarah was having a grand old time.
“No sense trying to hold it back,” MacArthur said about his own emotions. “You see your father crying, your mom, her parents. And she’s smiling.”
Agganis Arena will be a Rink of Dreams once again Saturday for Sarah Pollow, her family, and the MacArthur family. When asked to “go the distance,” she wanted nothing more than to be near her hockey hero. It’s just another reminder of how many great people are associated with the hockey community.