Hockey’s youngest commentator covers games for one special fan: his blind dad.

What happens when vision loss changes the way we enjoy our favorite sport?

As any sports fan knows, love of the game can run pretty deep.

There are player names to memorize, stats to learn, jerseys to collect, and of course, games to watch. For many families, loving a sport or a team brings them together. Parents and kids pile onto the couch or into the arena to watch games as a group.

Gerry Nelson has always enjoyed watching hockey. But things got a little trickier when blindness made it so he couldn't watch the game he loves.


Gerry wasn't always blind. But after years of ignoring his childhood diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, he lost his sight at age 25. "I lost my parents when I was very young, and I didn’t look after myself in my late-teens and 20s," Gerry said. "I didn't get the education I needed around how important health is when you're diabetic. But now I’ve turned it all around."

Losing his sight hasn't kept Gerry from living a full life. He's become an accomplished golfer. He also is an active father to his son, Wyatt, who is now 12 years old. "In reality," Gerry said, "he's more 12 going on 30."

Two things are forever true about Gerry and Wyatt Nelson's relationship. They've always been close, and they've always loved hockey.

Gerry Nelson and Wyatt Nelson-Zook in 2009. Image courtesy of Gerry Nelson, used with permission.

When Wyatt was 5 years old, they started attending hockey games together, mostly the local WHL team the Saskatoon Blades. Wyatt would watch the action on the ice, and Gerry would follow along listening to the live play-by-play broadcast on a local radio station.  

Their system worked perfectly — until the night they attended a preseason game the radio station wasn't covering. Gerry was happy to sit in the arena alongside his son, but Wyatt wanted to give him a better experience. So, he started narrating the action on the ice, emulating the play-by-play announcers hockey fans know so well. Through Wyatt's words, Gerry was able to see the action as well as he could have with sight.

From that night onward, Gerry hasn't needed his radio when he and Wyatt go to games together. Wyatt's play-by-play is enough.

“Sometimes when he is doing something with me I feel like I am taking him away from his time with his friends,” Gerry told an interviewer late last year. “But he says, ‘No, Dad, I love doing it and I want to do it.’”

Gerry and Wyatt's story started making waves in Canadian media last December. As it turned out, some folks in the NHL were following along.

Over the last year, they've had some incredible experiences thanks to hockey fans who've been inspired by their story. They've attended a Stanley Cup final game, gone to the NHL Player Awards in Las Vegas and met some of their heroes on and off the ice.

Wyatt even did play-by-play announcing for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on a local radio station in St Louis. "He did 17 minutes of the first 20-minute period," Gerry said proudly. "The more and more he does, the better he gets at it."

By far the most emotional moment for the two came last spring when a news crew visiting Saskatoon brought a special surprise to the local arena for the Nelson boys.

Hidden in a distant room at the rink was hockey's greatest trophy: the Stanley Cup. It's a huge piece of hardware, standing nearly three-feet-high and weighing 34.5 pounds. For fans, it's especially magnificent.

Wyatt Nelson-Zook with the Stanley Cup. Image by Gerry Nelson, used with permission.

Gerry and Wyatt got to experience the cup in a way few people do — just the two of them.

"Growing up on the streets of North Battleford, our Stanley Cup was an aluminum garbage can," said Gerry. "All of a sudden, I was realizing that it was my son and I, alone — no one else in the room with the Stanley Cup. It was one of the most amazing feelings. I was able to put my hands on it, without 200 other people in the room at the same time. That’s when it really started to hit home and got pretty emotional for me."

All of these incredible moments, shared with the sport they love, haven't changed Gerry or Wyatt one bit.

Wyatt and Gerry hold the Stanley Cup. Image by Gerry Nelson, used with permission.

When the big moments are over and the Stanley Cup has been put back in its case, Gerry and Wyatt Nelson still have their remarkable connection — and the game that brought it to light.

"The perfect thing is the quality and type of relationship that Wyatt and I have," said Nelson. "It wouldn’t matter if it was a peewee game on the local outdoor rinks or the Saskatoon Blades or an NHL game in the big city. Nothing could make it better because I’m already spending this wonderful time hanging out with Wyatt, sharing our love of hockey. For him and me, the blindness doesn’t figure into it. Wyatt does what he does because Dad’s Dad and Dad can’t see."

As for all the kudos Wyatt has received for his play-by-play announcing skills, Gerry says he'll leave it up to his son to decide if that's something he wants to do. "So far Wyatt's [wanted to be] a baseball player and a hockey player and a firefighter. I know for me it took a lot of trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and he's got a lot of time to figure things out," said Nelson. "I’ll support Wyatt in anything and everything he wants to do. If he opted to go that route, I would support him. After all, I'd get to go to a lot more NHL games!"

More
True
Horizon Organic
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared