Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker met his biggest fan last December. Nine-year-old Tucker Helstrom, of Hopkins, Minnesota—active, fun, and full of compassion—loved playing sports almost as much as he loved watching Wild games.
Just weeks earlier, Tucker was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. He began treatment almost immediately at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, undergoing chemotherapy and surgeries, including the amputation of his leg.
It seemed appropriate for Tucker to give Zucker his “Team Tucker Go!” T-shirt on the day they met: on the back of the shirt was Zucker’s name, with the “Z” crossed out and replaced with a “T.”
The two became fast friends, meeting up to play NHL 15 on Xbox, talk hockey, and hold playdates with Tucker’s sisters. Tucker always encouraged Zucker to “shoot more.”
Sadly, on the morning of July 2, Tucker passed away. The Zucker family, including Jason’s wife, Carly, and their daughter, Sophia, grieved alongside Tucker’s family.
Though their friendship was short, the lessons the Zuckers learned from Tucker about strength and the power of positivity will stay with them forever. They’re celebrating Tucker’s life by using the U’s crowdfunding platform, URaiseMN, to rally support for a hockey-themed Team Tucker’s Locker at U of M Masonic Children’s Hospital. It will be housed in the Kyle Rudolph End Zone, a new space designed to give children and teenagers a place to laugh, relax, engage in healing therapies, and socialize with other kids who know what it’s like to spend time in the hospital.