It is the Christmas miracle the Cunningham family was hoping for.
More than a month ago, former Vancouver Giants star and Trail native Craig Cunningham collapsed while playing for Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL.
Doctors determined he had suffered an acute cardiac arrest and nearly died.
The 26-year-old says he has no recollection of that night.
“The last thing I remember was playing the weekend before.”
Speaking for the first time since the incident, his mother Heather says doctors and staff in Arizona defied the odds.
“They have given Craig a chance to recover that continues to exceed anything that could ever have been expected. These people are nothing short of a gift to mankind. And I will remember the gift they have given me every time I look at my son.”
Vancouver Giants owner Ron Toigo says he does have a long hill to climb, but says he always worked hard and carried the respect of his peers.
“Going back to when the Olympics were here, our team was given an opportunity to have a torch bearer and all the guys voted him to be the guy and he was only 17 at the time so he wasn’t even one of the older guys on the team. Guys just recognized him for what he had been through and what he’s had to do to get to where he’s at.”
Toigo says when Cunningham makes a recovery, his door is open if he decides to pursue a role with the club.
“We’ll talk to Cunner any time, and he’s one of those guys who’s going to survive whatever avenue he decides to go down.”
Cunningham faces a long recovery and it’s likely he’ll never play hockey again but says he considers himself lucky to be alive.