When arena manager Graham Nesbitt of Seaforth, Ontario, learned he needed a kidney transplant, the community rallied around him with a level of support he couldn’t begin to anticipate.

That’s because in all the years that Nesbit managed the ice skating rink in the small town of Seaforth, he routinely opened the doors early and stayed late so young athletes could get extra time on the ice to improve their skills.

“They’d call and say, ‘Is there any way we can get onto the ice before school?'” Graham’s son, Joe shared with CBC. “He’d have the arena open at 6:30 a.m. so people could skate. He just wanted kids to be active and busy, not getting into trouble. It was his outlet as a kid and he wanted to pass it on.

One community member is especially grateful for the years of extra time Nesbit spent at the rink. Bonnie O’Reilly’s two sons, Ryan and Cal, both skated under the watchful eye of Nesbit, and both went on to play in the NHL, and accomplishment she largely attributes to all the extra time Nesbit spent at the skating rink so her boys could log in additional practice time.

Out of all the people in their little 3,000-person community who stepped forward to offer a kidney to Nesbit, Bonnie was the first match. She didn’t hesitate to get arrangements made for the surgery. Nesbitt’s son Joe quoted O’Reilly as saying:

“She says that ‘What you’ve done for my boys, helping them achieve their goal of playing professional hockey, it’s the least we can do”

O’Reilly’s son Ryan is captain of the St. Louis Blues, whose team won the Stanley Cup in 2019. Her son Cal played in the NHL for several years and is currently on the roster with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

The transplant occurred on March 3, and both patients are recovering nicely. In a Facebook post, Nesbitt’s wife, Pam, expressed her gratitude to Bonnie for her generous gift:

“From our family to you and yours Bonnie, thanks for the gift of a lifetime…Your selfless act means more than you’ll ever know.”

The entire Nesbitt family is grateful not only to O’Reilly, but to the countless other community members who were willing to step up in such a huge way to help out Graham. Joe Nesbitt shared with CBC that his father’s exemplary life of kindness and service is what ultimately saved his life:

“Something my dad’s always taught me is to be kind and helpful and generous to everybody. It just goes to show that those thoughtful acts and caring for people, it pays off. It truly paid off for my dad and saved his life.”

 

This piece was written by Lindsey Matthews on March 22, 2021. It originally appeared in UpliftingToday.com and is used by permission.

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