Ted Leonsis treats Maryland teacher, family to night in owner's box
It was a special night at the Verizon Center - beyond the hockey game - for a well-beloved Maryland teacher who is a die-hard Caps fan.
When you're battling esophageal cancer, you need a lift and Jack Dibler got a big one tonight.
When ABC7 first met Jack in February, the Capitals fan had just received a package from owner Ted Leonsis. It included a signed Alex Ovechkin jersey, and an invitation.
"We would be happy to invite you and your family to a game."
Tonight Leonsis made good on the offer to Dibler, who has taught in Maryland public schools for almost 40 years.
"I wanted him to come to a game," Leonsis says with a smile. "I didn't realize he was going to come with his whole family."
But Leonsis was more than happy to let Jack's family and friends come to the owner's box.
"It was so very gracious of Mr. Leonsis to invite all of my family, just some people that have enthusiastically given me some support, which is really important at this point," Dibler says.
"For someone who's fighting a severe health issue, you wouldn't know it," Leonsis says of Dibler.
And tonight, Ted and Jack became fast friends.
This was Military Night and Jack received a commemorative coin plus a hat that said "courage." It refers to the military, but Leonsis says it applies to Jack, too.
"My father passed away," Leonsis says. "I understand how important a father figure is to a family. And look at them, they're all here."
Jack's biggest supporter of all was there, his wife Eileen.
"Wonderful caretaker, wonderful caretaker."
The couple says you can't imagine what this night meant.
"It's just been the thrill of a lifetime."
"It's just the best distraction."
"Completely, completely. Cancer, it's not there."