Single mom recovering from cancer to take in Jets game thanks to kind stranger
Ryan Delong gives ticket to Leslie MacKay in 'random act of kindness'
When Leslie MacKay's phone rang and there was a stranger on the other line offering her a free Jets ticket, she wasn't immediately sure what to think.
"I was just so blown away," said MacKay, 36, a single mother who has been battling breast cancer and lymphoma since earlier this year. "It's incredible."
The caller was Ryan Delong, 30, a serious Jets fan who has watched the team play in three different cities.
When he realized none of his friends could make this Saturday's game, rather than take in the game alone or sell the ticket, Delong decided to give it away to a stranger who couldn't normally afford to go.
"You see the stories in Winnipeg all the time, of people doing random acts of kindness — like the bus driver who gave his shoes to a homeless person — and I figured this was a good opportunity to do something like that myself," he said.
He posted his free ticket offer on Kijiji and received more than 100 responses — from cash-strapped students to single mothers and more. One of MacKay's friends nominated her without her knowledge, and that made Delong's decision a little easier.
"My mom, she had cancer when she was 51 and passed away," he said. "It's a merciless disease and I hate it, as I'm sure everyone else does, but I know what the struggles like."
November also happens to be #HockeyFightsCancer month.
"It just felt like it was fitting," Delong said.
We're continuing to share stories where your <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HockeyFightsCancer?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HockeyFightsCancer</a> donations make a difference.<br> <br>Read Brody's story: <a href="https://t.co/PjaMWCWaS1">https://t.co/PjaMWCWaS1</a> <a href="https://t.co/owyIw76tzy">pic.twitter.com/owyIw76tzy</a>—@NHLJets
MacKay had previously seen a post circulating online about Delong's quest to gift his ticket, but she never dreamed she would be the one who would be the recipient.
"I saw the post and I liked it and thought, 'Well, this guy is pretty amazing,' but I'm not one to ask for anything, or ask for help," MacKay aid. "Asking for help is hard for me to do."
In February she found a lump that doctors confirmed was breast cancer. Further tests also revealed MacKay was suffering from lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes she previously had and beat as a teen.
"I had lymphoma when I was 13, and now at 36."
There's a lot of good people in the world but you don't see it very often, so it means a lot.- Leslie MacKay
MacKay finished an eighth round of chemotherapy in August and underwent a double mastectomy in October. She is now focused on recovery and says she is thankful to have a strong base of supporters and a helpful 10-year-old daughter by her side.
"Having to tell my daughter that her only parent has cancer, of course it's going to scare her," MacKay said. "Thankfully she is at an age where she is pretty independent herself."
MacKay has seen the Jets in action twice before: once last year at the MTS Centre, and another time when the CancerCare Foundation sent her to see them play at the old Winnipeg Arena in 1994.
She and Delong haven't met yet, but MacKay expects any social awkwardness will fade away once the puck drops.
"I'm kind of shy and from the sound of it he is really outgoing, so hopefully he can bring me out of my shell pretty quickly," She said.
"There's a lot of good people in the world but you don't see it very often, so it means a lot."
On top of the ticket, Delong also raised enough money to buy MacKay a Jets jersey.
With files from Caroline Barghout