Emily Belle Freeman




The guy cleaned an ice rink for a living. 6$ an hour.

He'd been kicked out of college because of bad grades.

I heard his story this weekend at a conference with over 1000 young girls.

How this regular guy showed up at a hockey game in blue jeans and a denim shirt and watched his team lose.  The game was almost over.  The crowd had settled deep into their seats.  It was a lost cause.

But Cameron Hughes, a passionate Senators fan, wasn't going to stand for that.

So he stood up.

And he started to dance.  He pointed his finger at all of those sitting dejectedly in their seats until their mood began to change.

He hollered at the home fans to throw their heart back into the game.

The arena awoke.

"Everyone was thinking I was the crazy guy at the wedding and wondering, Is that funny or ridiculous?" Hughes remembers. "By the end they … were clapping and cheering and totally into it."

Crazy thing is, Cameron Hughes woke up that morning, just like he always did.  He threw on some levi's and headed out to the stadium.  Same one he'd been to before.  To cheer on the same team he always had.

But that event became a game changer in Cameron's life.

Because that enthusiasm he'd created?  It made its way all the up to the owner's box.  Before the game was over a team representative came and found Cameron and said they wanted to talk.

They offered him free tickets and jerseys and signed merchandise if he would come to every game and energize the crowd.

The next year they paid him $250 for every game he attended.

Word began to travel.

Pretty soon he was hired by other NHL teams in Canada and the United States.  It wasn't long before he started attending basketball games.  He had found a niche ––he got paid to create enthusiasm.  To lift spirits.  To cheer people on.

In times of celebration and in times of failure.

No matter the score.

This one man reminded people to cheer.

I am reminded of Paul, And now I exhort you to be of good cheer. (Acts 27:22 KJV)

I urge you to keep up your courage. (Acts 27:22 NIV)

The greek translation explains that the verse suggests casting away loss.

When Cameron Hughes shows up he exhorts people to cheer, to keep up their courage, to cast away the loss.

He knows what he's doing.

Because when he was 17 his mother lost a two-year battle with breast cancer. "What do you do when you lose the closest person to you in the world?" Cameron says. "You get up. You take what they taught you and you figure it out."

And he did.  He figured it out.  Sure, he struggled.  But he reached out to people who could help. Day after day he fought to overcome.

In his attempt to find something that would bring cheer, that would allow him to keep courage, to help him through the loss, he ran for senior class president.

And he won.

"My mother's message was about how to connect with people," Hughes says. "I care a lot about people. I want everyone to like me, because everyone liked my mom."

He could have given in to the weight of the burden.  Given up his courage.  Given in to the loss.

But he held on, and he overcame.

He rose above.

Like a phoenix from the ashes he discovered a gift.

The ability to spread joy.

To cheer.

And we each know someone whose life is filled with sadness. Someone who's lost courage. Someone who is experiencing great loss.

Perhaps you know someone who has sunk down into their life?  Who looks at themselves as a lost cause?

I can't help but wonder…Is anybody cheering for them?

Cameron Hughes wouldn't stand for that ––he knows what can happen when you stand up and cheer.

So stand up.

In your own arena.

Stand up and cheer.

Cheer for the broken hearted.  The down trodden.  The one who has lost hope.

There is great power that comes from that kind of enthusiasm.  Just ask Cameron.  What started in a hockey rink moved to basketball arenas.  He's traveled to Major League Baseball teams and the Olympic games.  He's been to cricket tournaments and the US Open.

To cheer.

Cameron Hughes spends his life exhorting people to cheer.  To keep courage.  To cast away loss.

It's his profession.

But more importantly, it's his heart.

And it could be yours.

Where you see sadness, bring cheer. Where you see discouragement, bring courage. Where you see loss, bring support.

Stand up.

Help someone throw their heart back into the arena.

Become a game changer.

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Emily Freeman