Anaheim Ducks grant teen's wish with on-ice home opener introduction (Video)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Kai Quinonez got to live out a dream Monday night at Honda Center.

After Ryan Getzlaf skated onto the ice as part of the Anaheim Ducks player introductions for their home opener, the 13-year-old Quinonez glided forward one leg at a time to the cheers of a sellout crowd of 17,174, his face plastered on the team's big and bright new scoreboard.

The PA announcer described Quinonez, who is from nearby Los Alamitos, as part of “Team Make-A-Wish” because that organization and the Ducks were granting Quinonez's wish of being a member of the team. 

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At the age of 9, Quinonez was diagnosed with aplastic anemia. The definition is as follows from the Mayo Clinic’s website: 

Aplastic anemia is a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells. Aplastic anemia leaves you feeling fatigued and with a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding. A rare and serious condition, aplastic anemia can develop at any age. Aplastic anemia may occur suddenly, or it can occur slowly and get worse over a long period of time. Treatment for aplastic anemia may include medications, blood transfusions or a stem cell transplant.

“He was a perfectly normal, happy, 9-year-old child then he started in a matter of days started getting really big purple, yellow bruises,” his father Gus said. “Immediately we knew something was wrong. We took him back to the doctor and from there it was immediately 'head to oncology' and his life had changed forever at that point. He was taken off the playground.”

Gus said Kai did two rounds of chemo as part of treatment. According to the Orange County Register, Kai has gone through 14 surgeries. 

For over two years Kai was in and out of the hospital, so he never really got to learn sports.

But as his conditioned improved he decided to test his limits

He saw an advertisement about learning to play hockey from the Ducks, and his doctor OK’d the plan.

“I didn’t think he could do it,” Gus said. “Now, hockey’s his sport.”

Last week, Kai skated with the Ducks and his favorite player Hampus Lindholm at a practice at Honda Center. But the organization took his wish a step further. 

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The team surprised Quinonez by bringing him to the arena for the Ducks’ home opener Monday against the Vancouver Canucks and introduced him with the rest of the team.

It was a stirring and heartwarming site for people in attendance. 

Gus said Kai is “in remission now” but added, “There are a couple of things that need to work out, but he’s doing really well.”

Said a gushing Gus, "It was a dream come true for him." 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!






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