“The world lost the most special boy and an absolute hero last night,” Ben’s father Mike wrote in a Twitter post on Wednesday. “Ben, you were the best son we could ever hope for and you were my best bud ever. Your sisters were so lucky to have you as such a sweet brother. You fought so long and hard and beat so many odds.”
“You truly changed the world and did so much good in your short time here,” the post continued. “Mom and I are so proud of you. You had a bigger heart than anyone we’ve ever met. Our hearts are left with a Ben sized hole in them and life will never be the same without you. We are absolutely crushed.”
Stelter was diagnosed with glioblastoma — a form of brain cancer — two months before his fifth birthday. He fought through multiple surgeries to remove the tumor, underwent numerous radiation treatments and several rounds of chemotherapy.
The Oilers invited Stelter to skate on the ice prior to puck drop against the San Jose Sharks on March 24. After Edmonton’s 5-2 win, Stelter waited to give each player fist bumps as they returned to the dressing room, where he joined them for a victory celebration. The Oilers gave Stelter their game MVP helmet and jacket to wear.
Stelter continued to inspire his favorite team from there. He continued doling out high-fives and encouragement at regular season games, and the Oilers went on a 10-game winning streak when Stelter was in attendance. He became more of a fixture during Edmonton’s postseason run, even traveling to California for some first-round action against the Los Angeles Kings.
Edmonton’s rivals embraced Stelter as well. During the Oilers’ second-round series against the Calgary Flames, former forward Matthew Tkachuk posted a video on the team’s Twitter letting Stelter know that while “you may be cheering for the orange and blue, the [sea] of red is cheering for you.”
When the Oilers were eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche in the Western Conference Final, Stelter sent them a final message of support via his father’s social media and thanked fans for their outpouring of love.
Ben wanted to make a video for the @EdmontonOilers last night. Good try Oilers, we’ll get em next year! This was so much fun! Thank you for all of the love for Ben! To us, this is the best franchise in sports with a great group of guys and girls on and off the ice! #Yeg pic.twitter.com/7kC92FBC26
— Mike Stelter (@m_dan25) June 7, 2022
With the news of Stelter’s passing, many around the hockey community posted messages of condolences across social media.
We are mourning the passing of our dear friend, number one #Oilers fan, good luck charm & inspiration, Ben Stelter.
Although small in stature, Ben’s impact on our team & community were massive.
Play La Bamba, baby. 💙🧡
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) August 10, 2022
Ben you’re a true warrior and are such a inspiration to all of us. Your strength, determination, courage and love beamed through the hockey world and especially our team. I’m going to miss your fist pumps before the games. To the Stelter family we send our love and support. https://t.co/x2ohXLA7OS
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 10, 2022
Rest in peace, Ben. An inspiration to the entire hockey world.
Sending love to the Stelter family and all Oilers fans 💚
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 10, 2022
We send our condolences to the entire Stelter family during this difficult time.
Ben was an inspiration to the entire hockey community,💙🧡 https://t.co/glelMr1fr3
— Abbotsford Canucks (@abbycanucks) August 10, 2022
Rest well little man. Love to all the Stelter family and friends. 💙🧡 https://t.co/SmrDV39fWE
— Doug Gilmour (@douggilmour) August 10, 2022
Absolutely heartbreaking news.
Mike, thank you for sharing your son’s brave journey with all of us. His courage and spirit inspired an entire province and captivated hockey fans everywhere.
God bless you and your beautiful family at this time. https://t.co/eOlqAgJ9rm
— Jason Kenney 🇺🇦 (@jkenney) August 10, 2022
Rest in peace, Ben.
You were a true inspiration to the hockey world.💙🧡https://t.co/lRR7PfyKXh
— Canadian Hockey League (@CHLHockey) August 10, 2022
Sending all the love to Ben’s family and everyone he inspired.
Rest In Peace, Ben ❤️
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) August 10, 2022
Heartbroken to hear about Ben’s passing, he was and will continue to be an inspiration forever.
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) August 10, 2022
I am heartbroken to hear this news, and am sending love and strength to the entire Stelter family during this extremely difficult time. I promise to carry Ben’s fighting spirit with me throughout my term. #YEG is a better place because of Ben Stelter. May his legacy live on. 🕊️ https://t.co/eTv4fGEXhj
— Amarjeet Sohi (@AmarjeetSohiYEG) August 10, 2022
Offering our deepest condolences to Ben’s family and friends.
A true inspiration to the entire hockey community. Rest In Peace Ben ❤️ https://t.co/DgRwQHC6hl
— Calgary Hitmen (@WHLHitmen) August 10, 2022
We send our deepest condolences to the Stelter family, the @EdmontonOilers and all who knew and loved Ben.
The hockey community has lost an inspiration. 💙🧡 https://t.co/sT9cM5afbv
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) August 10, 2022
The #Canucks offer our deepest condolences to Ben’s family and friends.
Thank you Ben for being an inspiration to us all 💙 https://t.co/TYTawuMrRH
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) August 10, 2022
Our hearts are with Ben and his family/friends. He was such a bright light in the hockey community, inspiring courage and kindness wherever he went.
Rest In Peace, Ben 💙🧡 https://t.co/NPlnzxrUJ5
— Spokane Chiefs (@spokanechiefs) August 10, 2022
Ben was a true inspiration. Sending so much love to the Stelter family and the @edmontonoilers 💙
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) August 10, 2022
— NHL (@NHL) August 10, 2022
Sending our deepest condolences to the Stelter family, fans in Edmonton and the entire hockey community.
Rest in peace, Ben 🕊️💙🧡
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) August 10, 2022
The world lost a true warrior.
We love you, Ben. 💙🧡 https://t.co/APZmpZnolx
— LA Kings (@LAKings) August 10, 2022
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) August 10, 2022
We are sending you all so much love from Buffalo. 💙💛
Ben was an inspiration to the entire hockey community and his impact will live on forever.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) August 10, 2022
Ben, your impact was felt around the entire hockey community. You were a true inspiration & will be missed around the league.
Sending love & support to the Stelter family 💙
— Seattle Kraken (@SeattleKraken) August 10, 2022
Sending so much love today.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) August 10, 2022
Ben was an inspiration to the entire hockey world 💙
Our thoughts are with the Stelter family and @edmontonoilers during this difficult time.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) August 10, 2022
Sending our love to the Oilers organization and the Stelter family during this difficult time. ❤️
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) August 10, 2022
We send our sincere condolences to Ben and his family as well as the Edmonton Oilers organization and fanbase.
He was an inspiration and his impact will live on forever ❤️💙
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) August 10, 2022