The Edmonton Oiler community has said goodbye to a 6-year-old super fan who passed away this week.
Ben Stelter — who became a favorite among Oiler players and champions amid his battle with brain cancer — has died, according to social media posts shared by his family.
NBC Sports reported in April that Stelter had been diagnosed with glioblastoma (a type of brain cancer) last year and endured four rounds of chemotherapy, 30 radiation treatment sessions, and surgery. Eventually, the tumor returned. Still, through treatments and procedures, the young fan, dubbed the Oilers’ “lucky charm,” rallied to cheer on his favorite ice hockey team.
“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night,” Stelter’s father, Mike Stelter, announced in a post on Instagram on Wednesday. “Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for, and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds. You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here. Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met. Our hearts are left with a Ben-sized hole in them, and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely crushed. We love you, our sweet Benny boy. #benoilersstrong.”
The Canadian ice hockey team also mourned Stelter in a series of posts on their Twitter account in response to the news of his death.
“We are mourning the passing of our dear friend, number one #Oilers fan, good luck charm & inspiration, Ben Stelter,” a pinned Tweet shared on Wednesday read. “Although small in stature, Ben’s impact on our team & community was massive. Play La Bamba, baby.”
In addition to an original tweet shared today, the account celebrated Stelter’s life and enthusiasm for the Oilers and the sport of hockey with retweets from his previous interactions with the team.
Stelter often appeared alongside players during post-game press conferences and cheered them on during visits to their locker room.
The Oilers’ Twitter account also retweeted a March post of a video that highlighted how the tiny super fan’s presence had become embraced by fans and press alike. “Tonight’s MVP Ben joins Zach for his post-game media availability & well... you just have to watch,” read the post. In the video, Stelter appeared alongside Zach Hyman, a left winger for the Oilers, and answered questions from the press about his thoughts on a recent game.
A retweet of a post from May read, “Pre-game bumps with Ben!” and featured a video of Stelter handing out fist bumps to members of the Oilers team.
Sentiments of grief expanded beyond the Oilers, though, proof of just how much the young fan touched the hockey community in general.
The official National Hockey League also shared retweets of posts about Stelter and announced the news of his passing on its site.
“Ben was an inspiration to the entire hockey world,” the official Twitter account for the Winnipeg Jets tweeted in response to the news. “Our thoughts are with the Stelter family and @edmontonoilers during this difficult time.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets also sympathized with the Stelter family in a reply to the announcement of his death.
“We send our sincere condolences to Ben and his family as well as the Edmonton Oilers organization and fanbase,” they replied to the Oilers' post announcing his death. “He was an inspiration, and his impact will live on forever.”