The Free Press, Mankato, MN


November 5, 2006

A tribute to Anthony

Mavericks retire No. 99 in honor of late fan/friend

MANKATO — The number 99 may forever be attached to The Great One. But around the hockey rinks of this town, that number — and maybe even the nickname — belongs to someone other than Wayne Gretzky.

On Saturday night, the Minnesota State men’s hockey team paid homage to its great friend, Anthony Ford, raising a banner and retiring 99 in his memory.

Nine-year-old Anthony died in April after an 18-month battle with leukemia. He spent that same year and a half becoming an honorary member of the hockey team, and likewise, several Mavericks became honorary members of the Ford family.

“I don’t think they will ever know how much they helped us,” Anthony’s mom, Robin Ford, said.

The feeling’s mutual.

“They did more for us than ever could have done for them,” said ex-Maverick Ryan McKelvie, now a graduate assistant coach with Bemdij State, MSU’s opponent over the weekend. “Anthony will be part of every player who played on this hockey team, and that will last a lot longer than the stuff we did for them.”

It was a little over two years ago that Anthony was diagnosed with a rare form of the disease, and Mavericks coach Troy Jutting saw to it that a few of his players, including current players Chris Clark and Kurtis Kisio, visit the boy at St. Marys Hospital in Rochester.

A hockey player and fan who often wore a No. 99 Mavericks jersey, Anthony was thrilled by the meeting. Little did any of them know that it was going to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

“One time we invited a few of them over for dinner,” Anthony’s dad, Michael Ford, said, “and they never left the house.”

This wasn’t just a Make-A-Wish experience — Anthony actually got to meet Gretzky through that foundation. This transcended team and family.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Latest auto racing news
Featured Ads
Live Moondogs coverage
Shane Frederick's Twitter updates
Chad Courrier's Sports Report
Latest NCAA basketball news
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
NDN Video
Oakland Raiders To Become San Antonio Raiders? - @TheBuzzeronFox 3 Questions with Gary Payton: Kevin Love, Andrew Wiggins and Derrick Rose Players Only: Marcus Mariota's Course Load at Oregon How We Almost Got Johnny Cowboy Donald Sterling Loses The Clippers For Good - @TheBuzzeronFox Franklin talks leaving Vandy Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX Michael Jordan OK With LeBron James Wearing No. 23? - @TheBuzzeronFox The Cornhuskers have gone...Loco? Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Byron Scott Reportedly New Head Coach Of Los Angeles Lakers - @TheBuzzeronFox SportsNite: Botched play Gruden: Full-speed practices key for fundamentals Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France College Football Playoff Prognosis: Notre Dame Fighting Irish College Football Playoff Prognosis: Nebraska Cornhuskers Jake Peavy traded from Red Sox to Giants Browns wants Johnny Football to buckle down How Losing Joe Bergeron Affects Texas What will Pierzynski bring to St. Louis?