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Mady holding a card given to her by Ohio Hockey players. Provided by Tiffany OBrien. 

Hockey: Meet Ohio's biggest fan

Mady OBrien did not feel like herself in June 2015. The active six-year-old was constantly tired and lethargic, which wasn’t normal for her. After weeks of feeling rundown, Mady decided she had had enough. She wanted to get better, so she asked her parents, Tiffany and Ash, to go to the doctor. 

When they got there, Mady went into cardiac arrest. 

Her heart stopped twice in the emergency room, and she entered diabetic ketoacidosis. In a scary moment, Mady was flown to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. She spent almost 24 hours in a coma and was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. 

Learning to live with Diabetes was tough, but Mady didn’t have much time to adjust before receiving more life-altering news. About a year after her first trip to the hospital, she was diagnosed with Epilepsy. 

Mady’s seizures are intractable, meaning they cannot be controlled by medicine. However, the now 13-year-old is still making the most of life. She plays volleyball, basketball and softball but recently found love for another sport. 

Mady got her first glimpse of hockey during a youth league game at Bird Arena in the fall. However, she didn’t know how much they would like it until she arrived. The sport entertained her even at the beginner level, so she decided to try a more fast-paced college game. 

After her first Ohio game in December, she was hooked. 

Ohio hockey games quickly became an OBrien family tradition every Saturday. Whenever the Bobcats played at home, they were there. Not only did they fall more in love with the game, but they also fell in love with the team and the atmosphere at Bird Arena. Mady quickly became one of the Bobcats’ biggest fans. 

“It’s pretty exciting to watch the college games because they are more intense,” Mady said.

On Feb. 11, She had the opportunity to attend Ohio’s game against Robert Morris with the Diabetes Institute at Ohio University. They gave children with Type I Diabetes free admission into the game and allowed them into Ohio’s locker room for pictures and autographs. 

mady and team.jpg

Mady with the team on Feb. 11. Provided by Tiffany OBrien. 

Collin Felton saw the kids' excitement and wanted to do something nice for them. He asked Ohio coach Lionel Mauron if they could meet the team. Mauron said yes, and it made Mady's day. 

"We got her in the locker room and immediately, she just had the biggest smile," Felton said. "I was so happy we were allowed to do that." 

During the week of Ohio's final series, Mady underwent stereo electroencephalography. It was a minimally-invasive procedure where doctors planted 17 electrodes into the right side of her brain. She spent many days in the hospital recovering and, unfortunately, could not attend Ohio's last game. 

When the Bobcats found out that Mady could not attend, they wanted to do something special for her. Felton and Ash arranged for Mady to interact with players on FaceTime after the game, and she gave them fist bumps over the phone as they entered the locker room.

"That was really exciting for her because that kind of made her feel like she was still a part of their last game," Tiffany said.

mady and collin.jpg

Mady OBrien and Collin Felton. Provided by Tiffany OBrien. 

After the game, Felton and the Bobcats wanted to show Mady they were there for her every step of the way, even if she wasn't in attendance. The team worked together to make her a card and sent it to her. They love how much she's supported them this season, so they wanted to support her. 

"If she's that dedicated to us, then we need to show how much we appreciate her," Felton said.

All of Ohio, especially Felton, are truly inspired by Mady's resilience. The team sees her strength and wishes her the best of luck in her recovery. 

"Everything she has to go through, it's more than I've ever had to," Felton said. "It's amazing she has the strength to go through this."  


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