Why My Daughter’s Goal Was to Skate With Hockey Player Duncan Keith

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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In preparation for the 2008-2009 hockey season, the Chicago Blackhawks created a marketing campaign called “One Goal.” Players and staff members stated their personal goals for the year to showcase the individuality of each team member.

In 2015, the Blackhawks organization extended the campaign to fans, inviting them to share their goals on social media using the hashtag #WhatsYourGoal.

My daughter Cammy, 12, has been an enormous Blackhawks fan ever since she attended her first game in 2013, where she grinned the entire time. So when the #WhatsYourGoal campaign was introduced, I asked Cammy if she wanted to post a reply. Because Rett syndrome robbed her of speech, her eyes lit up with a smile to tell me, “Yes!”

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First, I asked her what her goal was. Through a series of yes-or-no questions, Cammy indicated that she wanted to skate on the ice with a player and score a goal.

Next, she had to decide on a Blackhawks player. Selfishly, I tried to influence her decision by asking excitedly if she wanted to skate with Patrick Sharp. To my dismay, she looked away to indicate “No.” I named several other Blackhawks hotshots, including Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, but Cammy continued to look away.

Then she smiled at me, and a lightbulb went off in my head when I saw her missing tooth. “Do you want to skate with Duncan Keith?” She gave me a dreamy fangirl look.

I had forgotten, though obviously Cammy hadn’t, that when she lost her first tooth, her dad and I explained that it’s normal to lose baby teeth. Trying to make her laugh, we pulled up clips of Keith getting hit in the mouth with a puck during the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2010, causing him to lose multiple teeth. I never realized how much of an impact it had on her.

That day, Cammy saw Keith as more than a hockey player. She saw his physical and mental toughness. She recognized that he didn’t have the most glorious position, as defensive players often don’t get as much public attention, but his grit, work ethic, and pride contributed to the team’s success. He represented all of the characteristics we see in Cammy.

Duncan Keith | Rett Syndrome News | Cammy smiles while lying down propped up on her elbows. She posing between her pink orthotics, which feature Chicago Blackhawks decals.

In 2014, Cammy designed her own orthotics to show her love for the Chicago Blackhawks. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)

When Cammy named Keith as the player she wanted to skate with, I immediately thought of a photo in which she’s posing with her orthotics, which featured Blackhawks decals. I uploaded it to social media and wrote, “Cammy’s goal is to score a goal with an assist from her favorite player, Duncan Keith.”

A couple days later, I received a message from a production agency saying that the Blackhawks wanted to make Cammy’s goal a reality.

A week later, we filmed Cammy’s #WhatsYourGoal video with Keith. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Duncan Keith | Rett Syndrome News | Chicago Blackhawks player Duncan Keith takes a selfie with Cammy before fulfilling her goal to skate with him.

Duncan Keith took a selfie with Cammy as soon as he met her in 2015. (Courtesy of Jacqueline Babiarz)


Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.

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