Larkin meets his biggest fan and makes his day
Dylan Larkin and Jimmy Howard pause for a photo with Larkin’s biggest fan, Michael Banaszewski. (MLive photo by Mike Mulholland)
Dylan Larkin has made and will continue to make a big impact on the Red Wings, but he arguably made an even bigger impact on a 14-year-old boy on Tuesday.
Larkin and teammate Jimmy Howard were participating in the Rocket Mortgage Classic’s AREA 313 Celebrity Challenge at the Detroit Golf Club.
Among those in attendance was Michael Banaszewski of Grosse Pointe Woods, who lives with Down Syndrome and was diagnosed with germ cell tumor testicular cancer on Sep. 21, 2018.
Not only is he a huge Red Wings fan – Michael’s room at Royal Oak’s Beaumont Hospital was fully decorated in a Red Wings theme – but Larkin is his hero.
“Michael is a big, huge hockey fan, a Red Wings fan,” his mother, Cindy Banaszewski, told www.mlive.com. “He loves Dylan Larkin. Wish Upon a Teen hooked us up with our tickets because Michael underwent some cancer treatment.”
As the celebrities were being introduced on the 14th tee for the 3-hole celebrity scramble, Michael yelled Larkin’s name. Howard, who was standing next to Larkin, noticed Michael and nudged Larkin, who then waved at Michael.
A bit later, as Larkin and Howard walked up the fairway for the 15th hole, Michael once again yelled Larkin’s name. Once again, Howard noticed first and directed Larkin in Michael’s direction.
“Larkin!” Michael yelled, as the two Red Wings walked toward him, and ran from under the rope barrier as both Larkin and Howard greeted Michael with high fives. Howard also gave him a golf ball.
“I was so excited,” Michael said. “I was like 100 percent excited.”
Larkin was heard telling him “we’re playing for you" before both he and Howard hugged Michael.
“It is so heartwarming,” Cindy said. “My (other) son and my daughter play hockey ... so we’ve always said hockey players have the biggest hearts. They’re just so genuine and so real. That was a testament to it. That is absolutely the truth.
“It warms my heart and it makes me feel humankind. You have faith.”
While being interviewed after the event, Larkin even gave Michael the opportunity to be interviewed.
“It’s special,” Larkin said. “Especially to see him supporting the golf tournament and just chatting with him, seeing that when he’s in the hospital, unfortunately, with his circumstances ... they said they decorate his room in Red Wings gear. Just to hear that, it gives me all the motivation to play for him. Seeing him here was special for us as well.”