By Mark Melnychuk, Leader-Post February 19, 2015 5:54 AM
MOOSE JAW — On Tuesday, Gabrielle Wuschke finally got to meet her hero.
Wuschke, 17, has been diehard curling fan for the past 10 years, and follows the sport with her grandfather Howard. Her favourite player is Team Manitoba skip Jennifer Jones, whom Wuschke has rooted for “from day one” of her curling fandom.
Wuschke, who is a Grade 12 student at FW Johnson Collegiate in Regina, was born with cerebral palsy. In addition to having no use of her right hand and limited use of her left, Wuschke is confined to a wheelchair. In 2013, she sent an application to the Sunshine Foundation, a charity organization which grants wishes to seriously ill and physically challenged children. Her wish was to attend the 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Montreal, Que. so she could see Jones. Although she got to go, Wuschke was unable to meet Jones, who was in Sochi, Russia competing at the Winter Olympics.
However, Wuschke’s grandmother, Beatrice, sent a letter to Jones’ mother, Carol, telling the family about Wuschke’s dream to meet her idol. Jones replied by mailing Wuschke the jersey she wore during the Olympic curling trials, the jacket she wore at the 2008 Scotties in Regina, signed photos of the team and a personal letter.
“In that letter she stated that Gabby was an inspiration to her, and also that someday they would meet,” said Gabrielle’s mother, Tracey Wuschke.
On Tuesday, that day finally came. Wearing Jones’ Olympic trials jersey and Scotties jacket, Gabrielle got to see her dream become a reality during an autograph session at the 2015 Scotties in Moose Jaw.
“She (Jones) came running around the table and gave Gabby a big hug,” said Howard.
“She was very very friendly. Jennifer acted like she could almost hardly wait for it too,” he said.
Gabrielle still has trouble finding the words to describe how excited she was.
“I can’t even explain it,” she said.
“I was more excited than nervous.”
Tracey said the family had been riding on an emotional high in anticipation of meeting Jones. The family has been travelling to the tournament in Moose Jaw from Regina each day.
“Gabby was so excited. You don’t sleep much the night before when you’re finally going to have your dream come true,” she said.
“As a mother of course I had tears as Gabby and Jennifer were hugging ... and Jennifer said ‘Stop by and say hi whenever you see me,’” said Tracey.
Tracey said the family understands how busy Jones is with her curling career, and are thankful for her effort to make a young fan’s dream come true.
“We didn’t expect a lot. We know that she has to stay focused on her curling ... but to take the time and reach out to Gabby is wonderful,” said Tracey.
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