CEDAR PARK — It’s not hard to spot the O’Rourke family when the Texas Stars come out for warmups at the Cedar Park Center.
They’re often lined up along the boards with homemade signs pressed against the glass.
Nevan O’Rourke’s have grabbed the most attention, since his sign before a game on March 6 read, “Jack Campbell, if you break up with your girlfriend let me know she is hot!”
Since that game, the 10-year-old has consistently needled at the issue with his signs, and it’s drawn chuckles from the Stars’ goalie.
But behind the jokes, the O’Rourke children also have made a heartfelt connection with Stars forward Derek Hulak, whose friend and college teammate Cody “Marty” Smuk is battling cancer.
After seeing Hulak wear a “Marty’s Men” sticker on his helmet and learning about what it meant, 13-year-old Liam, 10-year-old Nevan, 8-year-old Karis and 4-year-old Kade asked their parents to take a chunk of their Christmas money and donate it to Smuk.
“It was their idea,” Dave O’Rourke said before Texas’ game last Saturday, watching his kids hold up a new batch of signs. “We explained it to them and what it meant. Then they wanted to help and do something about it.”
Hulak’s Stars teammates have also lent Smuk their support, spearheaded by head coach Derek Laxdal and captain Maxime Fortunus.
“After I wore the sticker on the helmet, Lax and Max asked me about it, and they talked a little bit about what the team could do to help,” Hulak said. “The guys on the team have donated a nice amount that’s really going to help him with his treatment costs.”
Fortunus said it was an easy decision for the team.
“You never want to see someone going through that,” Fortunus said. “But we’ve all had or known someone who’s had to fight disease like that. When we learned about (Hulak’s) friend we wanted to help out.”