Sometimes sports can be about so much more than just a game.
Like every Caps fan, Amanda Wilson has been waiting 20 years to see her beloved Washington Capitals advance past the second round of the playoffs. A Washington fan through and through, Wilson grew up in the area and attended Robinson Second School in Fairfax, Va. She attended James Madison University and even worked as a bartender at Joe Theismann’s Restaurant in Alexandria.
Along with her husband, Adrian Wilson, Amanda has remained a loyal Capitals fan over the years going to hundreds of games, including the 2015 Winter Classic at Nationals Park. Traditionally, the Wilsons also go to a home playoff game every season.
But sometimes hockey and sports must take a backseat to life and it did for the Wilsons on Feb. 21. On that day, Amanda was diagnosed with leiomyosarcoma of the inferior vena cava, an extremely rare form of cancer.
Rather than following the Capitals’ improbable run to a third straight Metropolitan Division title, the Wilsons uprooted their lives and the lives of their young children and moved to Minnesota where Wilson could get treatment at the Mayo Clinic. Though she has had to follow from afar, hockey has been a welcome distraction.
The Caps opened the postseason with two straight losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but before Game 3, Amanda received a very special gift from friends: A Washington Capitals jersey signed by her favorite players with a personal message saying, “To Amanda, Stay Strong.” The number on the jersey was 20, the same number she wore while playing high school soccer for Robinson. She wore the jersey as she watched Game 3 and saw Lars Eller, No. 20 for the Capitals, score the overtime winner.
Since then, Wilson has been wearing her jersey for every game. Her husband Adrian wrote in an email to NBC Sports Washington that she cried “tears of joy” when they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time since 1994.
Despite everything going on he wrote, “This was as happy as I have ever seen my wife, truly, even under these really tough circumstances.”
Now between treatments and with permission from the doctors, the Wilsons decided to stick with their tradition and returned to Washington to attend Game 3 and Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final.
And yes, she brought her special jersey.