Tarasenko, Blues travelling with 11-year-old cancer survivor (Video)

St. Louis Blues star <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/4976/" data-ylk="slk:Vladimir Tarasenko">Vladimir Tarasenko</a> hosts special guest. (AP Photo/Tim Spyers)
St. Louis Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko hosts special guest. (AP Photo/Tim Spyers)

Jockeying for position in the Western Conference playoff chase, the St. Louis Blues shouldn’t be short on motivation as the regular season continues to wind down.

But in stops through Arizona and Colorado this week, the Blues, and their superstar forward, do have extra incentive to perform.

Six weeks after receiving a wonderfully generous invitation from her friend and favourite player, Vladimir Tarasenko, cancer survivor Arianna Dougan’s 11th birthday celebration resumed when she boarded the team’s charter (with cookies!), and headed southwest with the Blues.

On their first stop, and with his special guest perched in the seats, Tarasenko scored his 36th goal of the season in a 3-1 victory over the Coyotes.

Tarasenko first met Arianna two years ago through the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer program. He learned that she had been undergoing treatment for neuroblastoma – a form of cancer that affects young children – since she was 3.

The two developed a friendship in the time since, meeting on a few occasions. But Tarasenko and his wife Yana saw an opportunity to do something truly special for Arianna when the team held its annual Casino Night one week before her birthday. Despite the efforts of another determined party, Tarasenko secured the winning bid for a trip for two to travel with the Blues, and presented it as a gift to Arianna.

She’s already made incredible memories, and another stop awaits.

Arianna has suffered four relapses since her treatment began eight years ago, but the Blues announced last month that she’s been responding well to her current treatment, and is on the path to becoming cancer-free.

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