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Shaun White hugs cancer patients in halfpipe crowd

Shaun White United States waves crowd after run during men's snowboard halfpipe qualifying RosKhutor Extreme Park 2014 Winter Olympics Tuesday

Shaun White of the United States waves to the crowd after a run during the men's snowboard halfpipe qualifying at the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Hours before he went for the win, Shaun White already had delivered a gold-medal moment.

Shortly after qualifying for the Olympic halfpipe final Tuesday, White vaulted the barriers separating him from the fans and gave two young cancer patients high-fives and hugs.

“I thought, ‘He’s here? What?’” said Ben Hughes, a 10-year-old from St. Louis who was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago.

Also sharing the love was 19-year-old Kaitlyn Lyle, who, like Hughes, was in Russia courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Lyle said she had “liked” White on his Facebook page.

“I had no idea he’d do this,” she said.

She was diagnosed a bit before the Vancouver Olympics and her wish was to come to Russia, where she was torn between asking for tickets for figure skating or snowboarding.

“But when I saw Shaun win gold (in Vancouver), I chose snowboarding,” she said.

Good choice.



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