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There's something about Earl

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Earl Cook passed away from kidney failure at Winnipeg's St. Boniface Hospital on Sunday, September 18, 2011.  He was 23 years old.  Read the articles Earl Cook, Winnipeg hockey fan, dies, September 18, 2011, on, and Earl Cook receives NHL Alumni Award posthumously, September 26, 2011, at

Reg Sherren on "The Earl Factor"

Have you ever met someone who changes the way you look at the world?  Well, here's the thing.  Two weeks ago, I badly tore some muscle in my calf.  I'm a baby(man) anyway, but it hurt...a lot.  Now usually I'm inclined to take to my bed for a week, demanding around-the-clock care.  But this time, I pushed myself to get up and get on with it.  OK, hobble on with it.

Why?  Because of Earl Cook.  Earl is a young man from Winnipeg whose tenacity in tackling life's challenges can only be described as inspirational.  It starts with the fact that he really shouldn't be here.  None of the medical experts expected him to survive - born premature and addicted, into poverty, with more health issues than any one person deserves.  And then it was the cancer...and again the cancer, and still, at 23, he fights cancer.

But it barely slows him down for a second.  He has something to say, something to contribute, or to call it as he sees it.  From the first moment I met him, I had to admire this young character, with a goofy grin, always ready with a joke.  He has a certain charm, moving around on his one good leg, jumping into his uniform for sledge hockey, talking about his Red Wings.  Mike Babcock saw it too, and took Earl under his wing, so to speak.

Yes, that Mike Babcock, Olympic gold medal coach, head coach of the Red Wings.

And above all, I saw Earl's determination to not let his medical challenges decide what he could or could not do.  No sir, he says, "Cancer is not the boss, I'm the boss."  And he means it.  He plays hockey, coaches hockey, all through his chemo, with his guardian angel - his foster mom Debbie - never far from his side.  

Oh yes, I can get past this little problem with my leg.  And I won't complain...much, thanks to Earl.

Read Earl's blog, written by his foster mom Debbie Hopkins.