“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night,” Ben’s father Mike wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds.”
“You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here,” the post continued. “Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met. Our hearts are left with a Ben sized hole in them and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely crushed.”
Stelter was diagnosed with glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer — two months before his fifth birthday. He fought through multiple surgeries to remove the tumor, underwent numerous radiation treatments and several rounds of chemotherapy.
The Oilers invited Stelter to skate on the ice prior to puck drop against the San Jose Sharks on March 24. After Edmonton’s 5-2 win, Stelter waited to give each player fist bumps as they returned to the dressing room, where he joined them for a victory celebration. The Oilers gave Stelter their game MVP helmet and jacket to wear.
Stelter continued to inspire his favorite team from there. He continued doling out high-fives and encouragement at regular season games, and the Oilers went on a 10-game winning streak when Stelter was in attendance. He became more of a fixture during Edmonton’s postseason run, even traveling to California for some first-round action against the Los Angeles Kings.
Edmonton’s rivals embraced Stelter as well. During the Oilers’ second-round series against the Calgary Flames, former forward Matthew Tkachuk posted a video on the team’s Twitter letting Stelter know that while “you may be cheering for the orange and blue, the [sea] of red is cheering for you.”
When the Oilers were eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final, Stelter sent them a final message of support via his father’s social media and thanked fans for their outpouring of love.