Steelers get sense of perspective from brave Thomas’ smile

Tom Sestito
Tom Sestito

Sometimes hockey, football, sport as a whole has to take second billing.

I know I am the perfect example of a man who has put hockey in front of everything else in my life: family, job, social time, friends. They all have come second - perhaps even third - to the Steelers and hockey.

Then sometimes you see something and think maybe it’s not the most important thing. Let me explain.

Only last week the Steelers went to the Bluebell Wood Hospice. The visit was supposed to last an hour; staff at Bluebell Wood kicked the Steelers out close on four hours later, such was the impact of seeing these brave kids, all with a smiles on their faces fighting their own battles.

On Sunday in Sheffield our guest of honour was a little kid whose smile, enthusiasm and view on life puts all of ours to shame.

Young Thomas Fletcher isnt even ten years old yet but has suffered with Obliterative Bronchiolitis, a rare and life-limiting disease. Not that you would have known it on Sunday as he marched around the arena.

He walked into the Steelers dressing room before their game with the Panthers full of life and spirit meeting his Steelers heroes.

“Wow, you’re big,” he said to the 6ft 5in Tom Sestito. Sport has an ability to put a smile on the faces of those who haven’t a lot to smile about. More importantly, it has an obligation to do that - whether it be United or Wednesday, the Steelers or the Sharks.

Our clubs may have owners who have their names on share certificates but really we belong to the city, the people of the city.

While Thomas didn’t stop laughing, smiling and talking (for four hours) he did more for us than we ever could have done for him. He made dozens of people smile, he made many more think.

Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips has two young children of his own. As Thomas left the dressing room, he turned to me and said “It makes you think, doesn’t it?”

The Sheffield Steelers play a bigger and bigger part in everything that happens in and around our city.

We as a club have to be more aware, more supportive and more generous with our time.

We are all busy people scratching around for enough time to do our jobs such are the pressures we all face. Maybe we should all find the time to try and assist brave young lads like Thomas.

I think it’s our obligation, don’t you?

Don’t thank us for Sunday, Thomas - thank you, you helped make our night.

Get well soon, kid.