Bobby Clarke was a Hockey Hall of Famer, a fearless leader, and a two-time Stanley Cup champion during his legendary 15-year career with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Turns out he’s also a pretty good motivator at age 72.
For proof, listen to Drew De Moerloose, 9, a budding hockey player who has used Clarke as a role model. Clarke became a superstar despite battling diabetes, a condition that made him slip to the second round of the 1969 NHL draft.
Drew, who lives with his parents and sister in Glenmoore, Pa., was born with cystic fibrosis, a condition that produces mucus coverings on almost every organ in the body.
“The lungs, sinuses, and digestive tract are impacted the most,” said Adriane De Moerloose, Drew’s mom.
From birth, Drew has been either hospitalized or sick from October through April every year, and his days have been filled with countless hours of medical care.
Two years ago, he decided to give hockey a try; it wasn’t easy because he is smaller and slower than his peers, and also has less lung function.
Drew, who attends Spring Manor Elementary School in Chester County, welcomed the challenge.
“We have always taught him that having CF doesn’t define him. It’s just a part of him,” his mom said.
In June of 2020, Drew got access to a life-altering new drug. It doesn’t help with all aspects of cystic fibrosis, but it aided his lung function and enabled him to keep up with those at the rink.
The youngster went to his first Flyers game this season, and before he attended the contest, his parents showed him a Flyers video that highlighted Clarke, who was known as the ultimate captain, and his great play.
Seeing Clarke “put his heart and soul into the game despite having a medical condition, motivated him in ways we never could,” Adriane De Moerloose said.
Clarke was told of how much he meant to Drew, and he signed several items for him, including a hockey stick and poster, and wrote him a personalized note on a photo of him, Bernie Parent, and Eric Lindros. The fourth-grader’s parents saved the gifts for Christmas.
When Drew opened the presents a couple weeks ago, he was floored.
“Best Christmas ever!” he said.
Drew wrote a heartfelt letter to Clarke, who is a Flyers adviser, and told him: “You’re an inspiration. I didn’t think I could do it (play hockey) until I saw the Flyers history and learned about you. They said you were the smallest just like me and you had a medical condition and so do I! The video said that those things didn’t stop you from being good. You taught me that no matter what you’ve been through, you can be the best one out there.”
He signed it: “Your fan, Drew.”
Drew than added one final line: “P.S. I want to be just like you!”