Meeting with Pens star fulfills woman's dream
February 25, 2012 3:15 AM

When Lorilee Weaver, of Marion Center, heard Pittsburgh Penguins winger Tyler Kennedy was coming to Indiana to sign autographs, she was excited, to say the least.

Not only is Weaver a lifelong Penguins fan, but Kennedy has been her favorite player. So, on Friday evening, she waited in line, having gotten ticket number 100. When she approached Kennedy, she was able to get his autograph and her picture taken with the Canadian-born hockey pro.

There's just something about Kennedy, Weaver says, that sets him apart from stars such as Sid Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

So, for several reasons, Kennedy's visit to Steve and Stephanie Drahnak's Indiana Sports Cards store in White Township was a dream come true. Back in 2007, when Kennedy entered the league, doctors were worried Weaver's kidneys were on the brink of failure if she did not undergo long-term dialysis or get another kidney. She had suffered for years with severe diabetes.

That's when Weaver's sister, Ginger Hayward, 43 at the time, stepped up to donate her own kidney during surgery at a Pittsburgh hospital, likely saving her sister's life.

Today, Weaver is doing much better, though she had a serious setback about two years ago and was hospitalized for three months and worked through months of physical therapy.

Weaver wasn't going to miss Kennedy's appearance for anything.

"I don't care if we have to hook up the huskies," her mother, Frances Heitzenrater, said Friday. "She's just so excited."

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