Rose bonds with young Bombers fan
Defensive back makes friend during hospital trip
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/11/2019 (1224 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CALGARY — It began with a sore ankle. The kind of thing you might expect from an energetic eight-year-old kid that had just worn himself out following a Terry Fox run.
“There was no swelling. He was OK. He was just kind of complaining,” Tori Brown said of her son, Quinn, in a phone interview with the Free Press earlier this week. “But then the next day, the pain was really starting to progress.”
By the weekend, Quinn’s ankle had swollen to the point that he couldn’t walk and the pain was unbearable. No longer was this simply the cost of being a kid; something was up and it was time to visit the hospital.
“So we go to Children’s Hospital and right away, they sent us for x-rays and within about an hour or two of us being there, they decided ‘no, we got to get a biopsy of whatever’s in there,’” Tori said.
What followed was a small procedure, with the hope of finding some answers. At first, doctors thought it might be an infection or arthritis. Thinking it might be serious, Quinn was admitted overnight.
A surgery was scheduled for the next day to further explore the ankle. They collected some cultures but that revealed nothing. Meanwhile, the Brown family was getting more worried.
“And we were just kind of left hanging. They couldn’t see anything,” Tori added. “This whole time, Quinn’s just down. He’s upset. He’s depressed. We got admitted Sept. 30 and his ninth birthday was Oct.13. So he’s just getting worse and worse.”
An MRI was done, followed by yet another surgery. This time, they would discover a serious infection at the top of Quinn’s ankle.
So they kept looking, eventually drilling four holes into the bone. It would turn out that Quinn was suffering from osteomyelitis — a rare and serious infection, “which, for kids, is almost always an acute version, meaning it goes from zero to 60,” Tori said.
“We’re not sure if he was going to get out for his birthday at this point. And he was supposed to start a hockey program at the same time,” she added. “So all that just crashed him down another level. But then the Winnipeg Blue Bombers came through.”
By then, Quinn had already started a daily routine. He would get his school work done in the morning and in the afternoon, from 1 to 4 p.m., would retreat to the rec room where he would play video games.
The Bombers were making one of their scheduled trips to the Children’s Hospital and the Browns, a football-mad family — growing up, Tori played five seasons with the St. James Rods and was the only girl on the team — weren’t about to miss their chance to see the players up close.
“It’s the first time he’s truly smiling in the whole time we’ve been there. He goes to school that day and it’s no problem. He does the class time, no problem. He eats his lunch, no problem, which he hadn’t been eating pretty much the entire time we were there,” Tori said. “He’s just so ecstatic. He’s staring at the clock, watching the clock and waiting.”
It’s here that marks the beginning of a unique bond between Quinn and Bombers defensive back Winston Rose. Rose was just one of a number of players to visit that day, but it was Quinn he was quickly drawn to.
After taking pictures with a few kids, Rose eventually made his way to Quinn, who was hiding his shyness by playing video games. Rose walked over and asked what Quinn was playing, his hand reaching for a chair so he could take a seat.
“And the next thing I know, they’ve been sitting down for probably 45 minutes, just playing. And my kid is laughing as though this is his best friend. Winston is just all-in,” Tori said. “And this 45 minutes to an hour changed the rest of Quinn’s hospital stay. He was his old self again.”
It wasn’t just Quinn who was benefitting, either. When Rose was approached by a couple teammates saying they were being asked to move on, he told them he wanted to stay back. One game soon turned to another, and each time, the two were always playing on the same team.
“I have a little brother and when a kid like Quinn comes in just smiling at you, I don’t know, I just got that big-brother type of vibe,” Rose said, standing in the end zone at McMahon Stadium, where he and his teammates will do battle against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in today’s Grey Cup. “I just felt like he was kind of my little brother at the time, the two of us just having fun.”
“I loved it,” Quinn said. “I was just showing him how to play.”
The story could have just stopped there. Rose could get to feel good for volunteering his time, and Quinn would have a good memory he could cherish and a story to tell his friends.
But it doesn’t stop there. Quinn would get released on Oct. 11, two days before his birthday, and there happened to be a Bombers game the next day. To show their appreciation, Quinn’s grandfather, Robert Mark, and great aunt, Cori Mark, waited afterward to thank Rose and tell him how much it meant that he spent time with Quinn.
Then, when Robert asked Rose if he could send him a copy of a picture the two had taken together, Rose had a better idea. He asked what they were doing that Sunday, and whether they’d be willing to stop by Rose’s place so Quinn could hand deliver the photo.
It just so happened Quinn had scored tickets to the Winnipeg Jets game through the Children’s Hospital and Rose lived nearby. So they met up, and Quinn handed over a framed picture, while also holding one of his own for Rose to autograph.
“Then Winston takes the picture out of the frame and asks my kid for his autograph,” Tori said, her voice dipping with emotion. “I mean, come on, he asked my kid for his autograph. Then he made sure that we took photos on his phone so that he had it for himself. It’s really just been awesome.”
Rose nodded when told he could have just walked away from it — no harm no foul. But that wouldn’t be like him. Perhaps more importantly, it wouldn’t be the way his Grandma taught him, to always be kind and genuine with people.
But there’s an even bigger message here. Rose didn’t just do it because he could, or because it was the right thing to do. He did it because he wants people to know he’s more than the guy you see on TV.
“It’s bigger than me. Because I want to show people that it’s OK to be loving or it’s okay to be heartfelt. You don’t have to be a jock all the time, just everything hardcore,” said Rose, the CFL’s interception leader. “It’s not that I just want to show my soft side but I want to show I’m more than just an athlete, that I’m more than just a football player. There’s more about me than just that.”
A few weeks later, Quinn was healed to the point where he was back running around the house. Still feeling the effects of his interaction with Rose, he wanted to make sure Rose knew he was feeling good again. So after the Bombers punched their ticket to the Grey Cup with a victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the West Division final, he shot a celebratory video where he jumps around on his now healthy limb, proving he was officially back.
“There were kids who have been there longer and there are kids who are sicker. There are kids who are in a worse position, but for whatever reason, Winston just took that time and really made a connection and that whole connection just turned Quinn’s life around for those last few weeks,” Tori said.
“So we just wanted him to know that it may have only been an hour or two out of his life, but he has made such an impact on this little boy’s life, for the rest of his life. With the video, we just felt it was important to come full circle and say, ‘You know what? He’s OK now.’ And he’s gonna be OK.’”
Rose replied back with some words of encouragement, before letting Quinn know he and his teammates were working hard to bring the Grey Cup home. The Brown family will be watching, or course, with Tori, Quinn and his younger brother, Roman, huddled around the TV.
Quinn predicted a low-scoring game, with the Bombers beating the Tiger-Cats 13-12. He then ended the chat with a “Go Blue” before handing the phone to his mom.
Whatever the result may be, neither Quinn nor Rose, having been able to form a genuine connection that day, will be ending the season empty-handed.
After a slew of injuries playing hockey that included breaks to the wrist, arm, and collar bone; a tear of the medial collateral ligament in both knees; as well as a collapsed lung, Jeff figured it was a good idea to take his interest in sports off the ice and in to the classroom.
Updated on Sunday, November 24, 2019 9:49 AM CST: Adds photo