Whitecaps defender lets sick kids just be kids with 'Sutter's Seats'
Christina Heydanus, CTV News Vancouver
Published Thursday, July 18, 2019 6:13PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 18, 2019 7:16PM PDT
For kids who have to visit BC Children’s Hospital regularly, finding a way to forget about their sickness is sometimes what helps get them through the day, and it’s something Whitecaps defender Scott Sutter has taken a keen interest in.
Since joining the club in the preseason, Sutter and his wife, Claudia, have taken every opportunity possible to support families staying at the hospital, and one of their favourite ways to do so is with "Sutter's Seats." The couple invites a different family to every home match to sit in the seats Sutter has paid for himself.
"It's always something I hold dear to my heart. I’ve been so lucky in my life and my family’s life that I’ve never ever had to deal with such adversity like some of these kids,” Sutter told CTV News.
“I was a huge soccer fan growing up, and it meant the world when I could go to games and meet some of the players, and it was a great opportunity that my dad suggested to me a few years ago now, and I thought it was a fantastic opportunity for me to do something small and give back and to see the happiness that they can have."
It was an experience like none other for brothers Brennan and Harrison Forbes, who both spend time at BC Children’s Hospital. They got to watch the ‘Caps match against Sporting Kansas City, which started off with watching warmup pitch side, then getting a scarf from Sutter himself.
With 10 minutes left in the game, the family was brought back down to the pitch, where they got to meet Sutter again and take pictures.
"I think it's an awesome experience that I’d maybe like to have again, if I have the chance to,” said nine-year-old Brennan.
"I like all the players but I’m sad the Whitecaps were losing a bit,” added little brother Harrison.
Brennan and Harrison’s mom, Jennie, said it’s an amazing opportunity she’s grateful her son’s got to have.
"We spend a lot of time at Children’s Hospital, so be able to have someone give back in such a generous way and provide such a fun, memorable experience for the kids is going to be something they remember forever,” Jenny told CTV News.
But inviting kids to the pitch for the ultimate Whitecaps experience isn’t the only way Sutter gets involved. He also has kids from Children’s, who love soccer, come watch practice.
"It's good that they come and enjoy themselves and take their mind off of what they're going through," Sutter said.
One of the team’s biggest fans is 10-year-old Stuart Sanderson, who has Cystic Fibrosis. He’s always loved the game, and takes every chance he can get to hang out with the team.
"It's really cool. I’m very impressed at how good the players are,” Stuart said. “They kind of just say how you doing and they also, like, I’ve had a conversation with them."
At this particular practice, Sutter and other players stopped to greet each kids as they hit the pitch. Afterwards, Sutter invited them onto the field for a game of footy.
"It means everything,” Stuart’s mom, Guinevere, said. “Sometimes there are dark days if we have a lot of appointments or his health isn’t go great, so these opportunities really help on those days."
Bringing sick kids to practices and games is something Sutter has been doing for years, and he says he gets a different reaction from each child.
"Some are really chatty, some love soccer, die-hard soccer fans, been looking forward to it for a while, and some it’s their first game, or they’re more into ice-hockey,” Sutter explained. “It's for everyone, and a great experience, it's a distraction more than everything.”
The Whitecaps next home game is July 20 against the San Jose Earthquakes.