Christmas magic: A young boy’s dream comes true with a little help from Acadia

Janet Ross shares the story of her son Connor's special Christmas gift 12 years ago. His passion for football continues - this week he learned he has been chosen to play for Team Canada.

Published on December 20, 2016

Connor Ross, at age five, had his Christmas dream come true when the Acadia community came together to help bring him a football helmet.

© Submitted

KINGS COUNTY, NS - In 2004, when my son Connor Ross was five years old, he asked for a football helmet from Santa.

His dad is a huge Eagles football fan (don’t judge) and we thought he wanted a helmet because his dad liked football, and we never acted on this wish. On Dec. 22, we were getting the Christmas groceries at Sobeys in New Minas when Connor gazed up to the full moon - that I told him was the North Pole and Santa might be watching - and said so innocently, “Oh Santa, I hope you can bring me a football helmet.”

My husband and I froze and gave each other an oh my goodness death stare. What were we gonna do?

Oh Santa, I hope you can bring me a football helmet. Connor Ross, age five

I worked at Acadia University, and the next morning I sent the most pitiful, heartfelt, pleading email you have ever read on the Acadia-FYI email distribution list to all Acadia faculty, staff and employees. Those who work at Acadia can attest that this mail list is a very powerful social media tool, better than Facebook. My email explained how we were desperately seeking a football helmet for my five-year-old son and if anyone had anything they could sell or lend us for the Christmas morning reveal, it would be enormously appreciated. This is where the story gets beautiful.

Oh the email replies I received! Unfortunately, no one replied to say they had a helmet but so many replied with best wishes, prayers and offers to look in Halifax. Acadia employees even forwarded my message to family and friends who replied to try to help! The genuine kindness was amazing and truly what the season is all about. But, sadly, we still did not have a helmet for our boy. Until….

A phone call from Eric Cederberg of the Acadia Athletics Department was left on my voicemail. Eric and the athletics director at that time, Dan McNally, put on their Santa elf ears on and, without hesitation, said, “We need to get this kid a helmet.”

Connor Ross, #7, dodges NKEC players as he carries the ball up the field for CK.

©Jennifer Vardy Little

On Christmas Eve 2004, Eric Cederberg delivered a shiny, perfect, white helmet with a beautiful Acadia A logo freshly adhered to the side and with extra padding added to fit a five-year-old head. Eric also gave me an official Acadia jersey from a previous season.

I cannot express in writing how incredible this was. Not because I had a helmet in my hand for my son to solidify the Christmas magic we share through our children but because people cared, people shared, people loved and people showed kindness to others with emails, prayers, encouragement and action.

When my son ran down the stairs on Christmas morning, he said out loud, “I hope Santa brought my helmet!” The smile on my face and the tears in my eyes answered that question. Connor slept with that helmet on his bed and we still have this cherished treasure!

Now 17, Connor Ross still plays football – and may get a chance to play for Acadia next year.


Connor does play football. He played for the Valley Bulldogs, then Central Kings High School, the Nova Scotia provincial team for two summers, won some awards along the way and, in the new year, Connor has been invited by Acadia Head Coach Jeff Cummins for an official visit to consider playing football for Acadia. Although I am an extraordinarily proud mom, this story is not about Connor or his football journey. This story is about the importance we all have as humans to plant seeds, be kind, join the journey and believe in Christmas magic.

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Thank you Eric, Dan and Acadia University. Connor could not say thank you to Eric and Dan for the helmet for six years because he believed he helmet came from Santa. I’ve wanted to tell this story for so long. Connor is now 17, so I think I’m safe to share this wonderful Christmas story. Merry Christmas everyone.