Matt Vocino had his dream come true this winter when he and the family traveled to Vancouver for the Olympic Games.
The 12-year-old Lake Raiders defenseman experienced the trip of a lifetime courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, taking in the Canada-Russia quarterfinal game, a medal ceremony, the closing ceremony, as well as getting a private military tour.
Staying at the Sheraton Wall Centre afforded Vocino the chance to meet a number of celebrities who were in town, including US hockey players David Backes and Chris Drury, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Vocino said it was a special thrill when Drury let him hold his silver medal.
Meeting Canada hockey coach Mike Babcock was not exactly a moment to remember, however. “He was really grumpy when we first saw him after the (gold medal) game at 3 a.m., “he recalls. “(Babcock) ignored Matthew twice, but came to us the third time we called him and we got pictures taken with him.” Vocino’s mom Sylvia added.
Matt had a second wish granted when the family went on a five-hour tour of the military that included a one-on-one experience with the Navy, Army, bomb squad and RCMP. He even went on a helicopter ride over Vancouver, in which he could directly communicate with the pilot through his headphones. Matt seized the opportunity that day to race against and defeat a bomb squad robot.
Other highlights of the week included a boat ride over the Olympic rings and meeting skeleton gold medalist Jon Montgomery at Canada House, which was only supposed to be open to the athletes.
Make-A-Wish was extremely generous to Vocino, delivering boxes of presents to the hotel that required the family to buy additional luggage the night before leaving to pack all the gifts.