CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) — When it comes to hockey, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been the team to beat. They are back to back Stanley Cup Champions, and they're in the Finals again this year. The Wombles family from Crawfordville will surely be watching. They are big Lightning fans, and a special bond between son Bradley and Tampa Bay star Pat Maroon has only fueled that fandom even more.
From the moment he was born, Bradley had no choice, he was going to be a Tampa Bay Lightning fan.
"He was in Lightning gear from an infant," laughed mom Juliane.
It's a good thing he likes the Bolts as much as his mom and dad, and no one could have anticipated what happened at Bradley's first game.
"As we were headed out the door, I just took a last second quick picture and sent the tweet saying he's going to his first game," remembers dad Bryant. "We got to about Chiefland, I got a reply from Pat saying, I got a stick for you."
That stick cemented a relationship with Lightning winger Pat Maroon and the organization, one that means a little bit more, as Bradley was born with Cystic Fibrosis.
"I got a call from the pediatrician himself when he was 11 days old, saying his newborn screening came back positive for Cystic Fibrosis," recalled Juliane.
Cystic Fibrosis is a progressive disease that affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. To battle the disease, Bradley undergoes twice a day breathing treatments and takes a variety of medicines. It's a battle, and the Wombles are happy to have Maroon and the Bolts in their corner.
"It was a golden opportunity to share awareness of Cystic Fibrosis," said Bryant.
Like their relationship with the team, that opportunity has only grown. A birthday call from Pat to Bradley on his fifth birthday turned into another chance to attend another game.
"They went all out and made him feel so special that night," said dad.
The icing on the cake? Meeting Maroon face to face, and the promise of a puck if he scored, a promise he fulfilled.
"He went bonkers, I went bonkers," laughed Bryant. "Momma was going bonkers and momma was in tears at that point. That stuff happens in movies. It doesn't happen to you in real life. It was one of those things that he'll have for his entire life. It was such a morale boost for our entire family."
A boost to keep fighting, with a memory they'll never forget. To follow Bradley's CF journey, click here.