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Here's how Oilers fans are keeping the memory of Ben Stelter alive during the playoffs


Oilers fans are finding a way to keep the memory of team superfan Ben Stelter alive this playoff run.

The little boy captured the heart of Edmontonians last spring during the team's playoff push.

Ben died of brain cancer in August at age six.

The Ben Stelter Fund was created in his honour to raise money for children battling cancer.

Artist Melanie Croucher is currently working on a custom painted Connor McDavid jersey that will be auctioned off to raise money for the Ben Stelter Fund.

Croucher said she first connected with the Stelter family last Christmas after she saw a post from Mike Stelter about decorating the family home for the season.

"I know Christmas is a hard time of year, especially for them and other families that have lost loved ones, so I made a Mickey Mouse in a Oilers jersey getup, holding his baby Mickey, and I gave him and their family that for Christmas."

She said the family loved the gift, and they've stayed in touch since then.

Recently, she received an unusual request from Mike Stelter.

"He had contacted me and said, 'Hey, we saw this jersey of McDavid on eBay, and it’s going for like $8,000. Do you think you can paint something like this?'" Croucher remembered.

"I've never painted on a jersey before, but I thought, 'Heck yes.'

So she set to work.

"What I have done so far on the jersey has been two periods of hockey," she said with a laugh.

While Croucher has never painted on a jersey before, it's not the first custom Oilers piece she's done, and it's not the first time she's worked on clothing.

Her Instagram page is full of images of upcycled clothing painted with images of beloved pets and familiar Oilers scenes.

She sells her work as a way to make extra cash.

"Everything that you see on my social media has been commissioned work," she said.

But the art isn't just about money. She said it's been a therapeutic outlet as she struggled with personal issues.

"I say that art has kind of become my shining light amongst the dark time in my life, and it's brought so much joy and meaning to every day."

She said she's honoured to paint something in Ben's memory.

"Ben touched everyone’s hearts in Oil Country."

"I'm just so grateful that I have the opportunity to create a piece that can continue his legacy. He was such a sweet, young, passionate boy, and to be able to help with that is incredible."

Croucher said more details about the jersey auction will be announced by the Ben Stelter Fund soon.


If you want to put your money where your mouth is, several local eateries are also raising money for the Ben Stelter Fund.

Annie Rue's Ice Cream has created a special "Play La Bamba" themed ice cream in honour of the playoffs.

Tanya Rumak of Annie Rue's Ice Cream shows of the Play La Bamba Baby ice cream. (Alison MacKinnon/CTV News Edmonton)

"It's a vanilla ice cream. The blue one is vanilla, which we naturally coloured blue, and the orange one is orange so it tastes like an orange creamsicle," said owner Tanya Rumak.

The ice cream is only available in store at Annie Rue's in the Parkallen neighbourhood.

The shop will donate $2 from every container sold to the Ben Stelter Fund.

"It was such a gift for the Stelter family to share him with us for the playoffs last year. This is just one way that we can give back to them."

Over at Woodshed Burgers on 124 Street and Cameron Heights, the Ben Stelter Burger is available to hungry fans.

The Ben Burger at Woodshed Burgers.

"We've been donating a single dollar from every burger, so I think that's about $7,000 in a year," said Nick Thompson of Woodshed Burgers.

But the shop plans to up that donation if the Oilers playoff run continues.

"For this round it will be $2, and then next round if the Oilers go to the second round we're going to up the donation to $3. Round after that four, five and then finally if they eventually win it'll be six."


A tribute to Stelter that initially showed up during last year's playoff run has also resurfaced.

A "Play La Bamba Baby" sign on one of the city's "Welcome to Edmonton" signs has returned.

The "Play La Bamba Baby!" sign on the Welcome to Edmonton sign.

The line was made famous by Stelter, who said it after every Oilers win as a nod to the team's longtime locker room attendant Joey Moss, who died in 2020.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Alison MacKinnon. Top Stories

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