Calgary boy with Asperger's gets to sponsor his ski hero
Calgary boy saved $149 in his piggy bank to sponsor his hero
Christmas came a couple days early for eight-year-old Gage Ferguson.
The Calgary boy is a big fan of Olympian and World Cup skier Brad Spence.
Gage sent his hero a letter asking to be Spence's personal sponsor if he donated money from his piggy bank.
He started saving for it last year after meeting the skiing star.
On Friday, Spence told the boy he will wear a Gage Ferguson sticker on his helmet next to other sponsors' stickers for one race.
"I'm going to have you be my sponsor for a race in Switzerland this year," Spence said to Ferguson.
"Whoa," is pretty much all Ferguson could say. "There is no words," he added.
Spence is not keeping the $149 from Ferguson’s piggy bank. Ferguson has Asperger's Syndrome, so Spence is donating the money to Branch Out Foundation, which does research into neurological disorders.
Ferguson’s mom Jenn says life can be challenging for him and that's one of the reasons her son looks up to Spence, especially after the skier had a serious accident training for the 2006 Olympics.
"You challenge yourself every time you go down the mountain and Gage looks at that every time whether Brad places, whether he doesn't, he sees that you get up and you do the best you can no matter how you place at the end of the day," she told Spence at the sponsor press conference.
New sponsor gets big surprise
But just when Gage thought he couldn't be any happier, Alpine Canada President Max Gartner went on to make an announcement of his own.
"On behalf of KLM, one of the biggest airlines and the latest sponsor that joined Alpine Canada, KLM is going to fly you and your family to Switzerland," he said.
And of course, every sponsor needs a logo, and now a Gage Ferguson sticker is front and centre on Spence's helmet.
"It’s not just a corporate company looking to get some exposure for themselves, this is a pretty unique story about an 8-year-old wanting to sponsor an Olympian and world cup skier, so to have that emotional tie to my sponsor, hopefully I can come down and have a really good performance in front of him while he's there to watch," Spence said.
One last surprise for Ferguson was a jacket awarded to him as an honorary team member — proper gear for watching Spence on the slopes in Wengen, Switzerland, next month.