Somewhere, two doves nuzzle each other. An angel earns its wings. A cynical blogger wipes away ocular moisture. And Batkid nods with an approving smile.
After signing his three-year, $26 million deal, which presumably made Carlos Ruiz so happy, Chooch made his way to the Washington Township Fire Department to surprise a six-year-old cancer patient.
Aiden Riebel, who’s been battling leukemia for nearly his entire life, was being named an honorary fireman in front of friends and family. Shortly after taking the official oath, Aiden and his 10-year-old brother, Max, were given signed Carlos Ruiz jerseys. It was all pretty cool… and then Chooch himself showed up:
With the Saint Florian medal dangling around his neck, Aiden and his 10-year-old brother, Max, were then each given a Carlos Ruiz jersey and a baseball autographed by the Phillies catcher. Moments later, Ruiz himself — to the surprise of nearly everyone in the auditorium — emerged from a door at the back of the stage and proceeded to engage Aiden in a 45-second, teary-eyed embrace.
“Sometimes things happen for some reason, but this is special that God put us all together right here,” said an emotional Ruiz. “Thanks to all the firefighters that came out and everybody else that is here and thank you for letting me be part of this.”
In the absence of video (someone has got to have that, right?), we’ll just go ahead and assume that 45-second embrace from Chooch was the same hug he gave Roy Halladay after his Postseason no-hitter against the Reds.
Carlos Ruiz gives great hug.
How it happened:
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Aiden’s aunt, Katie Stier, was the only member of the entire family aware that Ruiz would be attending Thursday’s event. She notified the rest of the family at approximately noon on the day of the event, but she kept one last surprise guest completely hidden from Aiden.
Along with meeting his favorite baseball player, Aiden on Thursday met his favorite sports mascot as the Phillie Phanatic stormed onto the stage, instantly bringing an smile to the boy’s face.
“Everyone just wanted to do something and be part of this,” Stier said. “Between the fire department setting this all up and the Phillies being so eager to help out, it all just came together to be a very special evening for Aiden.”
For Aiden, the festivities provided a brief distraction from his seemingly never-ending battle.
As he attempts to beat the disease for a third time, his routine now involves at least two hospital trips every week to receive transfusions and other treatments. Though Aiden is aware of what is going on to the extent that he knows he is sick and needs the continuous treatment to keep living, his mother said he never lets that break his spirit.
“He just burrows through it all, like, ‘OK, Mom, what’s our next trip? What are we doing today?'” Ludwig said. “So every day is a new beginning for him, and we cherish every one we get with him.”
The Phillies may not be very good at social media, but they’re really good at this stuff.
UPDATE: Phillies.com has video, after the jump.