THE beaming smile across little Nicole McBride's face said it all.
It was a moment the plucky nine-year-old is unlikely to forget as she was whizzed around the ice by star hockey player Graeme Walton during last night's testimonial game at Belfast's Odyssey Arena.
As she was brought out onto the rink in front of thousands of screaming fans at the end of the first period, the Londonderry girl waved to those in the crowd cheering her on – making one of her dreams come true.
Although Nicole suffers from a rare genetic condition which means she has a life expectancy of between just 16 and 21 years, last night under the roar of adoring ice hockey fans she was thinking about nothing other than her moment in the spotlight. Following her time out on the ice and grasping a signed puck, proud mum Shona – who was also celebrating her own birthday last night alongside her husband Michael and two other children – said little Nicole was "completely overwhelmed" by the whole experience.
"She was scared she was going to fall on her bum but we assured her she didn't have to get out of her wheelchair," she said.
"It's great being out – all five of us out. She is loving it. This has really perked her up so much."
Since the Belfast Telegraph published the heartbreaking story last week about Nicole's battle with Ataxia Telangiectasia, the McBride family has received an outpouring of generosity from the public – helping little Nicole to fulfill her dreams.
Last night's fantastic opportunity came after Belfast Giants star Graeme Walton read about Nicole's 'bucket list' in this paper.
As a new father himself he said he admired the spirit of the youngster and wanted to help realise and make at least one of her dreams come true.
Nine-year-old Nicole McBride suffers from a rare genetic condition which will ultimately claim her life. But since the Belfast Telegraph first featured the brave little fighter's 'bucket list' last week, she has been inundated with offers to help her fulfill her dreams. Since first drawing up her list she has already enjoyed a family trip to Disney World in Florida.