We want to say get well soon to Bonnie O'Reilly, who is recovering from surgery today after donating a kidney to a family friend.— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) March 4, 2021
That friend would often open the town rink early so Ryan and his brother, Cal, could skate when they were kids.
Way to go, Bonnie! #stlblues pic.twitter.com/3MFSMhAyJy
Graham Nesbitt managed the local skating arena in Seaforth, Ontario for years. He always went above and beyond—staying late, opening early, making it to work regardless of rain or shine—to keep the neighborhood kids engaged. Now, one woman is giving back to the man who made it possible for her sons to become professional hockey players.
Bonnie O'Reilly's two sons, Ryan and Cal, both skated under Nesbitt's supervision. Ryan went on to captain the Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues while Cal is currently part of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' roster.
Although Nesbitt retired from the rink in 2003, the community rallied around him upon learning that the former manager was in need of a kidney. Several people lined up to see if they were a match, including O'Reilly.
Nesbitt was diagnosed with Berger's disease nine years earlier; the medication that kept his illness under control was no longer working, which meant that Nesbitt's life would depend on a transplant. That's when O'Reilly stepped up to the plate.
The transplant took place on March 3, 2021. The surgery was successful and both Nesbitt and O'Reilly are happily recovering.
"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," said Joe, Nesbitt's son.
"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," Nesbitt's wife, Pam, wrote on Facebook.