McDavid assists in donation to shuttle program for sick kids

Connor McDavid was on hand as the Edmonton Ronald McDonald House received two minivans for its shuttle program, which transports families from the house to local hospitals.

Go Auto donates two vans to get families at Ronald McDonald House on road to recovery

Connor McDavid surprised Carmen Musiowsky and her family at the Ronald McDonald House on Thursday. He was there to announce the donation of two vans to the charity's shuttle service (Manuel Carrillos/CBC)

The captain of the Edmonton Oilers took a backseat to the action on Thursday afternoon.

Connor McDavid was on hand as the Edmonton Ronald McDonald House received two minivans for its shuttle program, which transports sick children and their families from the house to local hospitals. McDavid surprised two families who use the service, popping out of the backseat as they came to look over the new vehicles.

"When I opened that door it caught me off guard big time that it was Connor McDavid sitting there, asking if I wanted to go for a ride," said Carmen Musiowski, who's been staying at the house with her four-month old daughter Alyanna and eight-year old son Ryder since late October.

'It gives us that freedom'

Alyanna was born a condition where her tongue blocks her airway, requiring her to breathe through a tube in her neck. The surgery to repair her smaller than average jaw and free up her breathing has been pushed to at least May. Until then, someone — often her mother Carmen — has to be watching Alyanna constantly to make sure she doesn't remove the tube.

That means Carmen can't drive to appointments and doesn't feel comfortable taking other kinds of transit.

"With the volunteers and the van, it's a safe and reliable ride. It gives us that freedom," she said.

The shuttle program makes more than 14,000 trips between the house and hospitals every year, or roughly 38 trips a day, thanks to a roster of 37 volunteer drivers. The vans were donated by Go Auto, which has an endorsement deal with Connor McDavid.  

Connor McDavid surprises Edmonton family to help announce the Ronald McDonald House charity's two new vans. 1:01

Go Auto also donated signed McDavid photos and hockey tickets to other families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

The two existing vans will be retired from service.

Road to recovery

Mitchael Dube and mom Ivy Dube were the other family surprised by McDavid. Mitchael, 17, was in a car crash in their hometown of Grande Prairie in November that left him with with serious brain injuries.

"It's pretty nice to see him. I know he's pretty famous," Mitchael said, confessing that while the Oilers were his favourite team, he didn't follow them closely.

Ivy Dube has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House since November as her son, Mitchael recovers from a car crash. Connor McDavid was at the charity on Thursday to assist with the donation of two new vans for their shuttle service. (Manuel Carrillos/CBC)

Ivy has been staying at the Ronald McDonald House since the crash, with Mitchael coming to visit from the hospital on weekends or when he can get a day pass. She said the shuttle service relieves the stress of parking, traffic and navigating an unfamiliar city.

"It just makes life easier. You don't have to worry," she said.

Mitchael, for his part, recently started doing physiotherapy to repair damaged nerves in his shoulder. He plays competitive canoe polo, a form of water polo played in kayaks, for Canada's under-21 team.

On Thursday morning, he was back on the water for just the second time since the crash.

"It felt pretty natural, the same as before," he said. "It's nice to be on the road to recovery."