Emerson Murphy-Tanner may be four, but already he can check two things off his list of life goals: meeting Sidney Crosby and touching the Stanley Cup.
The Pittsburgh Penguins captain recently paid Emerson a surprise visit at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax on August 6, with the famed trophy in hand, following the young boy's third open heart surgery.
Emerson's mother, Jenna Tanner, who hails from Lunenburg, said they had no idea Crosby would be coming.
"We were just hanging out in our room and someone came in and asked if Emerson would like to meet Sidney Crosby," Tanner told LighthouseNOW through Facebook.
"He's too young to know all about Sidney, but he likes hockey and skating so I asked him if he wanted to meet a really cool hockey player."
Crosby also gave Emerson a signed mini stick and a t-shirt. "Emerson was shy but he just started CanSkate this year and told Sid about that."
A series of photos of the young boy and his family pictured with Crosby has been shared on the Facebook page Extraordinary Emerson more than 200 times.
"Ever since meeting him he's been telling people who he met and showing them his hockey stick," said Tanner.
Emerson has Heterotaxy syndrome, a rare condition which causes the organs to be arranged differently from their normal placement, resulting in heart defects.
The condition affects an estimated one in every 10,000 births and first appeared during Tanner's 20 week anatomy ultrasound.
"I was in shock at first. He was given a 20 per cent chance of survival," said Tanner. "Then I started researching his condition to learn as much as possible."
Since he was born, Emerson has had three open heart surgeries, first at 13 days old, again at six months old and most recently on July 27.
Emerson has been very brave and strong for his age, said Tanner, and although he gets scared and upset at times, she said he smiles, plays and acts like any other boy.
Tanner said she calls him a "super hero."
"I wanted to give him a fighting chance and prove the doctors statistics wrong. He's definitely meant to be here!"
Emerson will turn five and start school this September.