Moments after Shaun White's second qualifying run in the halfpipe on Tuesday – his finals spot nearly assured with a first-run score of 95.75 – White searched for two fans over a barricaded patch, separating the athletes and the spectators.
There, through the Make-a-Wish Foundation, stood 10-year-old Ben Hughes and 19-year-old Kaitlyn Lyle. Hughes was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010 (his mom says he's been cancer-free for a while) while Lyle underwent chemotherapy that same year to battle a rare type of bone cancer.
White was only made aware of the duo by the Washington Post's Mike Wise, who alerted the appropriate people within the US snowboarding cohort.
“I was hospitalized all of February in 2010 and watching Shaun helped me get through that time in my life,” Lyle told The Post. “My goal is to leave here as Mrs. Shaun White. Okay, maybe not. But it would be cool to meet him.”
White exchanged hugs and spoke with the pair for about a minute, and he seemed to have won gold hours before the halfpipe finals had even started.