Earl Cook funeral set for MTS Centre
A funeral for hockey fan Earl Cook is planned for Friday evening inside the home of Winnipeg's NHL team.
The 23-year-old Winnipeg man, who captured Canadians' hearts with his lifelong health battles and love of the game, died of kidney failure on Sept. 18.
He had been battling cancer for the past 4½ years.
The service is set for 6:30 p.m.
Cook, who was a Detroit Red Wings fanatic, developed a unique friendship with head coach Mike Babcock, often serving as an inspiration to the team.
In a statement issued by the Red Wings after Cook died, Babcock said the young man had "an unbelievable spirit that allowed him to battle through a long list of challenges that most of us are fortunate to never know.
"He served as a fantastic role model for myself and our team," Babcock said. "He may have passed today, but with the way he lived his life, he never allowed this disease to beat him."
Cook had faced considerable adversity in his brief life. He was born prematurely with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, had Asperger's syndrome, Tourette syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
He was diagnosed in January 2007 with osteogenic sarcoma — a cancerous bone tumor — and had one of his legs amputated. He endured numerous rounds of chemotherapy and had nine surgeries, according to a blog maintained by his foster mother, Debbie Hopkins.
Cook was scheduled to receive an NHL Alumni Award — the Ace Bailey Award of Courage — later this month. Hopkins said Cook had invited Babcock and some other close friends to join him at the awards ceremony in Toronto.