When Canadian skier Brad Spence hits the slopes in the men’s slalom on Feb. 22, he’ll be wearing a special piece of headgear reminding him of his biggest fan watching from home.
Gillian O’Blenes is a 17-year-old suffering from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She met Spence through her nurse at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and the two have become great friends. They’ve become so close that Spence asked O’Blenes, a former high-level dancer and aspiring artist, to design the helmet he’ll wear throughout the Sochi Games.
“I’ll be watching and cheering him on every step of the way,’’ O’Blenes told Canada.com. “It’ll be super cool to see him race, it’ll be super cool to see him wearing my helmet … how great is that! It’s nice to feel involved in something so universal and so special, especially to Canadians. I get to be a part of it!’’
Spence asked O’Blenes to design his helmet after he noticed some of her drawings during a visit.
“Her doodling to me looked incredible,’’ Spence told Canada.com. “I left that day thinking I’d love to help her share in my journey to the Olympics. I presented her with a red helmet just before Christmas.’’
O’Blenes, who applied to the Alberta College of Art and Design, used various Sharpies to create the red, black, white and gold design. The entire project took five or six hours.
“It was therapeutic to do that helmet,” O’Blenes told Canada.com. “It’s something I can do when I’m waiting in bed and to do it for someone else who believes in me is pretty cool. As much as he always says I inspire him, he’s the one that really inspires me so it’s a mutual relationship.’’
- - - - - - -