If getting signed to a one-day contract with the San Jose Sharks wasn’t enough...
Now, 18-year-old Sam Tageson's face will appear on his very own rookie card, to be collected by hockey fans across the globe.
Tageson will be personally autographing the Upper Deck "Young Guns" card on Sunday at a San Jose sports memorabilia shop. All the money raised by the autograph session will be given to two charities that made his one-day contract with the NHL team happen.
Tageson hasn't yet seen the card, which comes complete with Upper Deck's trademark anti-counterfeit hologram on the back. He will be surprised at the event.
“Sam is just ecstatic,” said his mother, Lisa Mills. “He has been given so much love, he wants to give some back.”
The wish he got, Tageson said, has now made his “heart whole.”
Tageson, a senior at College Park High School in Pleasant Hill, who was born with half a working heart, was granted his ultimate wish on May 18. The Sharks – a team the teenage roller hockey player idolizes – signed him to a one-day contract, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Sharks Foundation.
To see Tageson’s face crack in an emotional half-cry-half-smile as he skated out of the Sharks Head and whiz around the ice gave fans and Comcast SportsNet Sharks host Brodie Brazil “the goosebumps.”
Upper Deck spokesman Chris Carlin said that his company photographer was at that game, and was surprised to learn of Tageson’s story unfolding on the ice. Carlin said everyone at the Carlsbad-based company – one of the most well-known trading card makers -- thought it was a “natural fit” to put Tageson on his own card.
Upper Deck has a “Heroic Inspirations” line of cards honoring those that deserve trading cards, but otherwise wouldn’t get them because they are not professional athletes.
Tageson was born with Left Hypo Plastic Heart Sydrome, which means he has half a working heart. Mills, a nurse for Alameda County, said that doctors told her family that her son should never play sports.
But they didn’t listen.
Tageson always ran around like “any normal child,” Mills said, and has become an avid roller hockey player, working out nearly every day of the week.
“Doctors said, ‘Take the hockey sticks away and give him a golf club,’’” she said. “But hockey for him is what helped him all these years. It’s what made him be that strong person. Hockey is his life.”
IF YOU’RE INTERESTED: Sam Tageson will sign Upper Deck Young Guns Rookie cards featuring himself at a charity event to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Sharks Foundation on Sunday from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Stevens Creek Sports Cards, 3220 Stevens Creek Boulevard – Suite D, in San Jose. The Sharks are also selling Sam Tageson hockey shirts. Proceeds will go toward the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Watch NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez report on Tageson in this 2010 report.