A junior hockey team in the United States is turning the dream of a special young girl into a reality on the ice.
On Monday, January 29, the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League unveiled the special edition jerseys they’ll wear for their seventh annual Sanford Children’s Night on Friday, February 9. The jerseys were designed by a 10-year-old girl named Charleigh, who is this year’s Children’s Miracle Network Champion for the Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, North Dakota.
The jerseys are “all Charleigh,” as a Sanford staff member told the Force’s website. They incorporate all the things Charleigh loves: unicorns, rainbows and the color purple. It also incorporates light blue on the collar, numbers and contrasting nameplate to match the ribbons worn to raise awareness for Charleigh’s condition, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH).
The jerseys are mostly white with a unicorn holding a hockey stick on the front and “FARGO FORCE” arched overtop. Rainbow stripes run around the waist and the sleeves.
Light blue numbers outlined in black sit on the shoulders of the jersey, while a rainbow with clouds at the ends appear further down the sleeve. The numbers on the back are also light blue with a black outline. Names are printed in white on a light blue nameplate. The logos of Sanford Children’s Hospital and the Children’s Miracle Network sit on the back collar.
Player-worn jerseys will be auctioned off after the game with proceeds benefitting the Sanford Children’s Foundation. Charleigh will be at the February 9 game to perform the ceremonial puck drop and to receive the Sanford Children’s Miracle Network Champion medal during the first intermission.
Charleigh was five years old when she was placed into emergency foster care and admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at Sanford Children’s in October 2018. At the time, her condition was so severe that doctors gave her less than 12 hours to live.
But thanks to the lifesaving equipment and expert medical care at Sanford, Charleigh pulled through and is now thriving with her adoptive parents. She spent two months at Sanford receiving treatment for HLH, which included chemotherapy and support for behavioral health needs and other physical challenges.
HLH is a rare immune deficiency disorder that can be fatal if left untreated. According to Johns Hopkins University, it usually occurs in infants and young children, and it causes certain white blood cells to attack other blood cells. The abnormal blood cells collect in the spleen and liver, causing those organs to enlarge.