Dawg Nation has allowed me to meet many professional athletes. Many are extremely generous and willing to step up and help where they can. This generosity has most definitely aided Dawg Nation and has been instrumental in our growth over the past four years.
But I’ve never met anyone quite like Milan Hejduk. Milan was a gifted player that possessed the knack for scoring goals, and that was never more evident than 2002-03 season when he won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL’s top goal scorer. Milan was a tremendous player but he is an even better person, and that was never more evident than the night of February 1st, 2015.
Cody Beekman is a young man that has been dealt a pretty tough hand in life. In 2011, this young man was in the prime of his life when the car he was a passenger in was struck by a drunk driver. The violent collision left Cody paralyzed and facing a life that he nor his family bargained for or deserved. Cody is Dawg Nation’s most recognizable recipient and is still a big part of our organization today. He can been seen at most of our events and is always quick to tell anyone that will listen what Dawg Nation means to him. Cody grew up a huge Avs fan and his favorite player, hero and idol was none other than Milan Hejduk. Cody loved the grace, poise and class of #23. I first introduced Milan to Cody a year ago at the Promenade Ice Arena. The meeting was brief but still impactful to Cody as Milan presented him with signed picture and took the time snap a few memories as well.
Cody has a wonderful outlook on life but his situation can leave him down at times. Lately I noticed that Cody was in a bit a dark place and felt if anyone deserved a “pick me up” it was him. Milan and I happened to be hanging out a couple of weeks ago and he asked me how Cody was doing and I shared that I felt he could use a little lift. Milan and I put our heads together and decided it would be really cool to surprise Cody and take him out for dinner and brews. That brings us to Monday, February 1st. Milan and I made the trek up to Cody’s house and had our young friend believing that he had a dinner date with his dad and I. Phil (Cody’s dad) dressed his son in his beloved #23 Avs jersey and awaited my arrival. I came in first to be greeted by a smiling Cody. A few seconds later, Milan stepped through the front door and Cody’s face lit up like it was Christmas morning! The two spoke easily and Cody then showed off his room full of Avalanche memorabilia. Of course the most prominent item was the picture of Milan with a personal note to Cody. From there it was drinks and dinner. The conversation was light, fun and full of laughter.
The night ended with Milan and Cody making a fun video that would go up on Cody’s Facebook page later that evening. It was an awesome night for Cody but I can guarantee you that it was even more awesome for Milan and I.