With the help of his cousin, the director of sports science and performance with the Pittsburgh Penguins arranged to spend a few hours on Tuesday with the Summerside Boys and Girls Club and athletes and family associated with Special Olympics P.E.I.
His cousin is Flory Sanderson, co-owner of Island Hill Farm in Warren Grove.
“I think I had done an event a few years back with Special Olympics and I thought it was a great organization and just really inspired by those athletes in all that they’ve done to overcome,’’ O’Brien told The Guardian after about 55 athletes and countless family members all had their picture taken with O’Brien and the Cup.
“I wanted to share the Cup with one of the local charities and thought that would be a great one.’’
The gesture went over well with P.E.I.’s Special Olympians.
“I felt happy that I got to see the Stanley Cup,’’ said Morgan Lubliek, who competes in bowling, bocce ball, basketball and swimming.
O’Brien, enjoying his second Cup with the Penguins, also took the trophy over to Andrews Hockey school in Charlottetown and to the Andrews Lodge senior’s home.
The idea of bringing the Cup to Island Hill Farm started minutes after the Penguins won the National Hockey League’s storied trophy.
“We sent him a picture of a table his grandfather had given us as a wedding present and said the Cup would look fantastic on it,’’ Sanderson said. “Andrew came out for a visit and said ‘yes, we’ll do this and invite the Special Olympics to come and join us’.’’
The Summerside Boys and Girls Club was already booked in for a visit to the farm. While Sanderson closed the farm to the public for a couple of hours on Tuesday, she honoured the club’s visit but didn’t tell them there was going to be a special guest there.
“They had no idea so it was a nice surprise for them,’’ she said.
O’Brien’s day with the Cup started with receiving it at his parent’s cottage in Stanhope.
“I wish I could bring it around to everybody but it’s such a short day. You have to make the most of it.’’
It goes without saying O’Brien would love to return with the Stanley Cup a year from now.
“I’ve had several players tell me that when they win it it just reinforces them wanting to win it again. Having been a part of that and seeing what it means to the players on the team, the families and people in the community it definitely inspires you to keep going so hopefully (the Penguins) can build on what we’ve done here the last couple of years.’’