by Michelle Crechiolo @PensInsideScoop / Penguins Team Reporter
Throughout his career, Sidney Crosby has spent time with many sick people whose one wish is to meet him.
Earlier this month, he took time after a skate to meet with George McNamara - who turned out to have a unique connection to the Penguins superstar.
When McNamara, 81, was younger, he grew up near the farm of a couple, Syd and Nancy Ball. They ended up taking him in as a teenager and even helped him get a job at a local grocer in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
McNamara lived with Syd and Nancy for three years before joining the Canadian Army at 19, but even after he left, the three of them stayed in touch and stayed close. McNamara was involved and connected with their family for over 20 years, visiting whenever the opportunity presented itself.
As it turned out, Syd and Nancy would become Crosby's great-grandparents, with Syd even becoming Sidney's namesake. So when Crosby and McNamara got together, they got the chance to share memories of Syd and Nancy along with their mutual love of hockey.
"When I heard George's story, I really wanted to meet him," Crosby told pittsburghpenguins.com. "Family is important and I loved hearing the old stories. We had a great time and I'm so happy he was able to come for a visit."
McNamara has overcome so much adversity in his life. Just shy of his 78th birthday, he was getting ready to do his daily swim laps when he collapsed on the pool deck. After receiving medical attention and having several tests, he learned that he had Stage 4 colon cancer. During this time, he also experienced the sudden, unforeseen death of his son.
McNamara's chemo treatments soon began to make him sicker rather than healthier, and for that reason, he is now no longer in treatment and lives in palliative care with a prognosis of less than a year to live.
Despite these circumstances, McNamara continues to take great joy in spending time with his family and watching hockey. He also takes great joy in his unique connection with Crosby, and thanks to Wish of a Lifetime Canada - which grants life-enriching wishes to deserving older adults - he got the chance to share that with the Penguins captain himself.
"No dollar could buy the expressions on his face that day," McNamara's daughter Edie told the Wish of a Lifetime Canada website.
"It's kind of hard to explain, it was all great," McNamara added. "I feel relieved, I never thought I would meet him."