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Young hockey player battling leukemia receives support from Ottawa Senators and her community


In a heartwarming display of solidarity, the hockey community has rallied around 15-year-old Caroline Courchesne, who was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

Caroline is passionate about hockey, as a player and a fan. Before her diagnosis, she spent the majority of her time on the ice.

Last week, after experiencing severe headaches and fatigue, Caroline's trip to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), revealed her condition.

"The first day was really emotional for everyone, and yeah, it was a shock," she said.

Now, it's an off-ice battle in hospital and it can be taxing on the body and mind.

"I used to be on the ice with school and my club, I'd say like eight times a week and then I would go in the weight room three times a week with school," said the Grade 10 student at Louis-Riel Public Secondary School.

"Now, I'm just doing nothing and I don't like it, I don't like doing nothing."

As it turns out, neither do her friends, teammates, coaches and teachers, who, on Monday, held a rally and fundraiser in support of Caroline.

"We all came together as a team, the boys and the girls team, everybody from school," says Isabelle Lavergne, one of the organizers.

"We have her back no matter what. We're all here as a team, we love her so much."

Lavergne, along with her hockey teammates from the Louis Riel Rebelles, crafted bracelets made with skate laces with notes like, 'All u do is win' and sporting her jersey number, 13.

Members of the Louis Riel Rebelles boys team shaved their heads in a touching display of unity at the rally outside of their home-rink in Orleans, before leaving for an out of town tournament.

"It's really just shows as a whole that we're supporting her," says player, Lincoln Tate.

"We want her to make it through this and that we're all in this together."

"It's emotional, it's touching," said Caroline's father, Charles, who attended the event, along with his older daughter, Camille.

"Caroline is in the hospital for a little while, but she's strong. She would prefer to be out here with her teammates, but I know her spirit, she is strong and this will help."

Caroline is grateful for the immense show of support, which she calls 'insane' and has been topped-off by one surprise email.

Ottawa Senator, Thomas Chabot, caught wind of a social media post and personally reached out with a video message to assure the young hockey player that she's not alone in her fight.

"I saw a message on my phone so I clicked on it and then it was him just saying, we're here for you, you're going to get through this, you'll be back on the ice soon," says Caroline, noting Chabot is her favourite NHL player.

"That like boost my confidence up a little bit, it's going to help me get through this treatment."

Caroline's mother, Linda Larkin, says the outpouring of support has touched the entire family.

"The hockey family is just not our immediate hockey family, it's also out, up and above that," she says. "Thomas Chabot reached out, which was extremely heartwarming. It's all been very encouraging and has put a positive light on all of this."

In their first game of the tournament, the Louis Riel Rebelles boys' hockey team won the game.

"The boys also bought a bunch of orange tape and they put some on their skates, their stick, and on their helmets. So I find that pretty cute, it's nice of them," said Caroline.

"I'm excited to see my school friends, my teachers and I'm really excited to be back on the ice because that's like my number one priority." Top Stories

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