“This keeps him alive for us”: a tour of the 32 NHL amphitheaters in memory of Étienne

The passion for hockey of Étienne Toupin, a boy from Saint-Michel-de-Napierville who died of leukemia at the age of 13 in December 2022, remains alive and well thanks to his family and those close to him.

On Saturday afternoon, about fifteen of them traveled to Boston to attend the game between the Bruins and the Canadian. Each member of the group wore a white and purple hockey jersey with Étienne’s name on it.

This tribute is part of an inspiring project, led in particular by Étienne’s father, Jean-François Toupin.

He and several of his loved ones began a tour of the 32 NHL amphitheaters to pay tribute to his son who died just over a year ago.

“It keeps it alive for us. This is our way of keeping him with us for a long time,” Toupin stated in an interview with LCN.

The presence of people close to Étienne Toupin at the TD Garden in Boston did not go unnoticed by Bruins fans.

“All the people asked us questions in the arena to find out who Étienne was. So we explained to him what our concept was and what we wanted to do for him and pay tribute to him. We saw people with tears in their eyes who really sympathized with our cause,” says Jean-François Toupin.

“They are very big emotions, the fact of seeing that there are so many people who sympathize with your cause, without a doubt, touches the heart,” he adds.



The dream of Étienne and his father

This project of touring the NHL stadiums was born from Étienne’s passion for hockey. When the family was diagnosed with leukemia in 2021, he and his father set out to achieve this feat little by little.

“I told him: ‘When you’re healed, big guy, we’re going to build all the National League stadiums together. It’s going to be a project for a few years.’ Unfortunately, he left us last year,” explains Étienne’s father.

However, the young man was able to go see a Senators game in Ottawa, as well as some Canadiens games at the Bell Centre.

Étienne also had the opportunity to enter the CH locker room and meet several players, including his idol Cole Caufield.



Despite Étienne’s death, the project of touring the National League continues.

Jean-François Toupin and his friends intend to make this dream come true and complete the feat in twenty years, at a rate of 2 or 3 amphitheaters a year.

“We’re going to make this happen, that’s for sure.”



A lucky encounter

Mr. Toupin and his loved ones were also not at their wits’ end after Saturday’s meeting.

“After the game, we went back to the hotel and the former Bruins were there, so Raymond Bourque was there. He signed our shirt and we took photos with (him). “It seems like yesterday the planets were all aligned to make it a magical evening!” he states.



pay it later

In addition to continuing Étienne’s project, the Toupin family also intends to contribute to the Governors of Hope Foundation, which greatly supported the young man’s loved ones when he was fighting his leukemia.

“It is a foundation that helped us a lot during the time that Étienne was in treatment, because it is a foundation that helps families,” emphasizes Jean-François Toupin.

Last year, Étienne’s father organized a pocket tournament at his home that raised approximately $2,800 which was donated to the foundation.

Mr. Toupin intends to repeat the experience and continue organizing fundraising for the Governors of Hope Foundation.

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