NORTHBOROUGH — The “Fist Bump Kid” is back.
Just about eight years after a video of him fist-bumping Boston Bruins players from the team’s bench went viral, Liam Fitzgerald has been invited to fist-bump Bruins players on Monday as they get announced for their Winter Classic game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Fenway Park.
“I didn’t know that people would remember me as the ‘Fist Bump Kid,’” said Liam, who is 16 and has Down syndrome.
“It’s kind of like the return of the ‘Fist Bump Kid,’” said his mother, Christine Fitzgerald.
On Nov. 4, 2014, Liam attended a Bruins game with his family at TD Garden. During pregame, the pint-sized kid from Northborough – who had beaten leukemia a year prior – found himself on the jumbotron, blowing kisses to the camera before making his way down to the tunnel to high-five players.
That’s where Bruins Director of Community Relations Kerry Collins spotted Liam. She asked his father, Bill Fitzgerald, if it would be OK for Liam to sit on the bench for an up-close view of the players coming off the ice.
“I literally picked him up and put him over the glass,” Bill said.
And that’s when the “Fist Bump Kid” was born.
“Our lives haven’t been the same since,” Bill said.
An unexpected Christmas present
On Dec. 25, 2022, Liam woke up early. The sophomore at Algonquin Regional High School waited patiently for his parents to get out of bed so he could open his Christmas presents.
Liam and his family ate breakfast – “eggs benedict, it was amazing” – before opening stockings and presents. Toothpaste, a toothbrush and a hockey video game marked a few of Liam’s gifts before one final present made his day.
With his mom videotaping, Liam opened a box that had four tickets to the Winter Classic inside. Christine then explained to Liam that he wouldn’t just be watching the game on Jan. 2 – but the NHL wanted the “Fist Bump Kid” to be a part of the entertainment.
“You’re going to be down on the ice, fist-bumping the guys as they announce them to go out on the ice and you’ll be on TV,” she said.
“Oh my God,” Liam responded.
Much like the fist-bump video from 2014, footage of Liam opening his Christmas gift went viral on social media last week. The video had over 70K views and 3K likes on Twitter as of Monday.
“I’m so excited to go,” Liam said.
A part of the family
Liam’s first Bruins game came in 2011 as part of Brad Marchand’s ‘Brad’s Brigade,’ an initiative that gives pediatric cancer patients and their families VIP access to a Bruins home game.
Two years later and cancer-free, Liam dressed up as former Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid for Halloween. Soon after, McQuaid and the Bruins invited Liam to a game. On Feb. 1, 2014, Liam met McQuaid and then nine months later Liam was introduced to all of the Bruins via his signature fist-bump.
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The relationship between Liam and the Bruins has only grown stronger.
“You feel like he’s part of the family,” Christine said. “Like he’s part of the Bruins’ family.”
Bruins memorabilia enshrine Liam’s bedroom and basement.
Liam has pictures of himself with Patrice Bergeron, Bobby Orr, Rene Rancourt, Shawn Thornton, Marchand and McQuaid. He’s developed close ties with Torey Krug, Bergeron, Marchand, McQuaid, Thornton and many others over the years.
Liam and his family were even invited to the 30th birthday party of McQuaid, who retired from the NHL in 2019 and currently serves as the Bruins’ player development coordinator.
“It was like being a part of the family,” Bill said. “Here we are in the back of Mike’s Pastry and they were so welcoming and so warm.”
“It would be nice to see (McQuaid on Monday),” Christine said.
During the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, Liam served as a banner captain for the Bruins. Earlier this season, Liam was featured in Bergeron’s 1,000-career point video.
And on Monday, Liam will be back at it again with the Bruins. Just this time, doing what he does best.
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“It’s kind of come full circle,” Liam’s father said. “You can’t write it up any better.”
“I’m proud of the fact that I’m the ‘Fist Bump Kid,’” Liam said.
Tommy Cassell is a senior multimedia journalist for the Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @tommycassell44.
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